The developmental genetics of dextrality and sinistrality in the gastropodLymnaea peregra

  • Gary Freeman
  • Judith W. Lundelius


The genetics of body asymmetry inLymnaea peregra follows a maternal mode of inheritance involving a single locus with dextrality being dominant to sinistrality. Maternal inheritance implies that all members of a brood have the same phenotype, however, some broods contain a few individuals of opposite coil. One purpose of this paper is to explain the origin of these anomalous individuals. Genetic analyses of sinistral broods with a few dextral individuals have led to the development of a cross-over model, with the anomalous dextrals originating as a consequence of crossing over either during meiosis or mitosis in the female germ line. The crossover either reconstitutes the dextral gene from previously dissociated parts, or creates a dextral gene by means of a position effect. The probability of a crossover event depends upon the appropriate combination of complementary sinistral chromosomes. Each crossover event has the potential of creating a unique dextral gene. Genetic analyses of dextral broods containing a few sinistral individuals have demonstrated that different dextral genes vary in penetrance.

The dextral gene produces a product during oogenesis which influences the pattern of cleavage in the embryo; this cleavage pattern is translated into the appropriate body asymmetry. The other purpose of this paper is to provide an assay for this gene product. Cytoplasm from dextral eggs injected into uncleaved sinistral eggs causes these eggs to cleave in a dextral pattern. Cytoplasm from sinistral eggs has no effect on the cleavage pattern of dextral eggs. While the dextral gene product is made during oogenesis, it does not function in controlling cleavage until just before this process begins.

Key words

Body asymmetry Maternal inheritance Cleavage pattern Timing of gene action Gastropod 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Freeman
    • 1
  • Judith W. Lundelius
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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