Featured Microscopist: Wim van Egmond

Tunicate Larva

Tunicate Larva

It is in the larval form that tunicates reveal their ancient relationship to humans and other vertebrates. During this brief stage of life, the developing organisms exhibit a sort of primitive, flexible backbone called a notochord. Also, a nerve cord runs down their relatively long, muscular tails, which help propel them through their aquatic environment once they are released from their eggs. Gravity and light-sensing vesicles are also present in the larval stage, providing important information regarding orientation to the tadpole-shaped organisms. Their purpose at this point in the life cycle, however, is not to find food, but rather a suitable location for metamorphosis. During this form-changing process, the larval tail is resorbed as a food source and the notochord is lost.


Photomicrographs are © 2000-2013 by Wim van Egmond.
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