Brain – Hatschek’s pit relationships in amphioxus species

Authors

  • Aubrey Gorbman

    Corresponding author
      Aubrey Gorbman, Department of Zoology, Box 351800, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
      E-mail: agorbman@aol.com
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Aubrey Gorbman, Department of Zoology, Box 351800, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
E-mail: agorbman@aol.com

Abstract

The vertebrate hypothalamo-hypophyseal neurosecretory system is a complex anatomical device for central nervous control over secretion of pituitary hormones. Since it is present in the most primitive vertebrates, the cyclostomes, it is of interest to look for a possible invertebrate anatomical equivalent, or precursor, for clues as to its evolution. We have found in six species of amphioxus, members of an invertebrate group (cephalochordates), considered to be closest to the vertebrates, that there is a morphologically equivalent neuro-epithelial complex, that in many ways resembles the hypothalamo-hypophyseal system of vertebrates. In the six amphioxus species described here the nervous element is a ventral lobe of the brain, the infundibulum, that extends downward along the right side of the notochord, and ends near the dorsal surface of a Rathke’s pouch-like structure known as Hatschek’s pit. This part of Hatschek’s pit has been found earlier to contain a vertebrate LH-like gonadotropin. Therefore, the infundibulum-Hatschek’s pit system of amphioxus may be involved in regulating the seasonal reproductive cycle, and it appears to be a direct homologue of the vertebrate hypothalamo-hypophyseal neurosecretory system functionally as well as morphologically.

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