Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 216, Issue 4, pp 209–223 | Cite as

Early embryonic development of the central nervous system in the Australian crayfish and the Marbled crayfish (Marmorkrebs)

  • K. Vilpoux
  • R. Sandeman
  • S. Harzsch
Original Article


This study sets out to provide a systematic analysis of the development of the primordial central nervous system (CNS) in embryos of two decapod crustaceans, the Australian crayfish Cherax destructor (Malacostraca, Decapoda, Astacida) and the parthenogenetic Marbled crayfish (Marmorkrebs, Malacostraca, Decapoda, Astacida) by histochemical labelling with phalloidin, a general marker for actin. One goal of our study was to examine the neurogenesis in these two organisms with a higher temporal resolution than previous studies did. The second goal was to explore if there are any developmental differences between the parthenogenetic Marmorkrebs and the sexually reproducing Australian crayfish. We found that in the embryos of both species the sequence of neurogenetic events and the architecture of the embryonic CNS are identical. The naupliar neuromeres proto-, deuto-, tritocerebrum, and the mandibular neuromeres emerge simultaneously. After this “naupliar brain” has formed, there is a certain time lag before the maxilla one primordium develops and before the more caudal neuromeres follow sequentially in the characteristic anterior–posterior gradient. Because the malacostracan egg-nauplius represents a re-capitulation of a conserved ancestral information, which is expressed during development, we speculate that the naupliar brain also conserves an ancestral piece of information on how the brain architecture of an early crustacean or even arthropod ancestor may have looked like. Furthermore, we compare the architecture of the embryonic crayfish CNS to that of the brain and thoracic neuromeres in insects and discuss the similarities and differences that we found against an evolutionary background.


Arthropoda Axogenesis Evolution Neurogenesis Naupliar brain 



We wish to thank E. Buchner (Würzburg) for providing the SYNORF1 antibody. B. Beltz is gratefully acknowledged for providing access to a confocal miscroscope and D. C. Sandeman for encouragement and critical discussion of the work on C. destructor. This study was supported by DFG grant HA 2540/5. S. H. is a Heisenberg fellow of the DFG. The developmental work on C. destructor was funded by an Australian Research Council Grant No. A096008682 to D. C. Sandeman.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fakultät für Naturwissenschaften, Abteilung Neurobiologie und Sektion Biosystematische DokumentationUniversität UlmUlmGermany

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