• cell fate maps;
  • clitellate annelids;
  • teloblasts;
  • Tubifex hattai

As in other clitellate annelids, embryonic development in the oligochaete Tubifex is characterized by the generation of five bilateral pairs of teloblasts (designated M, N, O, P and Q), which serve as embryonic stem cells to produce germ bands on either side of the embryo. A large part of the tissues comprising body segments has been assigned to the progenies of the teloblasts; however, the developmental fate of each teloblast has been inferred only from its initial position in the embryo. In the present study, the fate of the progenies of each teloblast was followed by means of intracellular injection of a tracer enzyme, horseradish peroxidase. Cell fate maps for teloblasts in the Tubifex embryo were constructed. M teloblasts gave rise to nearly all of the mesodermal tissues, which included circular and longitudinal muscles, coelomic walls, nephridia (in segments VII and VIII) and primordial germ cells (in segments X and XI). Although few in number, M teloblasts also contributed cells to the ventral ganglion. Similarly, each of the ectoteloblasts, N, O, P and Q, made a topographically characteristic contribution to the ectodermal tissues such as the nervous system (i.e. ganglionic cells and peripheral neurones) and epidermis, all of which exhibited a segmentally repeated distribution pattern. The P and Q teloblasts uniquely gave rise to additional ectodermal tissues, namely ventral and dorsal setal sacs, respectively. Furthermore, O teloblasts made a contribution to the nephridiopores in segments VII and VIII as well. These results confirm the previously held view that ectoteloblasts and mesoteloblasts are the main source of ectodermal and mesodermal segmental tissues, respectively, but also suggest that all of the teloblasts produce more types of tissue than has previously been thought.