Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 226, Issue 6, pp 413–422 | Cite as

Observations on germ band development in the cellar spider Pholcus phalangioides

  • Natascha Turetzek
  • Nikola-Michael Prpic
Original Article


Most recent studies of spider embryonic development have focused on representatives of the species-rich group of entelegyne spiders (over 80 % of all extant species). Embryogenesis in the smaller spider groups, however, is less well studied. Here, we describe the development of the germ band in the spider species Pholcus phalangioides, a representative of the haplogyne spiders that are phylogenetically the sister group of the entelegyne spiders. We show that the transition from radially symmetric embryonic anlage to the bilaterally symmetric germ band involves the accumulation of cells in the centre of the embryonic anlage (primary thickening). These cells then disperse all across the embryonic anlage. A secondary thickening of cells then appears in the centre of the embryonic anlage, and this thickening expands and forms the segment addition zone. We also confirm that the major part of the opisthosoma initially develops as a tube shaped structure, and its segments are then sequentially folded down on the yolk during inversion. This special mode of opisthosoma formation has not been reported for entelegyne spiders, but a more comprehensive sampling of this diverse group is necessary to decide whether this peculiarity is indeed lacking in the entelegyne spiders.


Embryonic development Haplogyne spiders Pholcus phalangioides Opisthosoma Leg length Engrailed 



We thank Matthias Pechmann for advice on cloning the engrailed gene from Pholcus phalangioides and Maarten Hilbrant for comments on the manuscript. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments that significantly improved the manuscript. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grant numbers PR 1109/4-1 and PR 1109/6-1 to N.M.P.). Additional financial backing has been received from the Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB), the Göttingen Center for Molecular Biosciences (GZMB), and the University of Göttingen (GAU). N.T. is supported by a Christiane-Nüsslein-Volhard-Foundation fellowship and a “Women in Science” Award by L’Oréal Deutschland and the Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

N.M.P. is a member of the Editorial Board of Development Genes and Evolution serving as Communicating Editor for the Topical Collection “Size & Shape”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach-Institut für Zoologie und AnthropologieGeorg-August-Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Göttingen Center for Molecular Biosciences (GZMB)GöttingenGermany

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