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Baeumler, Natalie; Haszprunar, Gerhard; Ruthensteiner, Bernhard: Development of the excretory system in a polyplacophoran mollusc: stages in metanephridial system development. In: Frontiers in Zoology 2012, 9:23
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Abstract

Background: Two types of excretory systems, protonephridia and metanephridial systems are common among bilaterians. The homology of protonephridia of lophotrochozoan taxa has been widely accepted. In contrast, the homology of metanephridial systems - including coelomic cavities as functional units - among taxa as well as the homology between the two excretory systems is a matter of ongoing discussion. This particularly concerns the molluscan kidneys, which are mostly regarded as being derived convergently to the metanephridia of e.g. annelids because of different ontogenetic origin. A reinvestigation of nephrogenesis in polyplacophorans, which carry many primitive traits within molluscs, could shed light on these questions. Results: The metanephridial system of Lepidochitona corrugata develops rapidly in the early juvenile phase. It is formed from a coelomic anlage that soon achieves endothelial organization. The pericardium and heart are formed from the central portion of the anlage. The nephridial components are formed by outgrowth from lateral differentiations of the anlage. Simultaneously with formation of the heart, podocytes appear in the atrial wall of the pericardium. In addition, renopericardial ducts, kidneys and efferent nephroducts, all showing downstream ciliation towards the internal lumen, become differentiated (specimen length: 0.62 mm). Further development consists of elongation of the kidney and reinforcement of filtration and reabsorptive structures. Conclusions: During development and in fully formed condition the metanephridial system of Lepidochitona corrugata shares many detailed traits (cellular and overall organization) with the protonephridia of the same species. Accordingly, we suggest a serial homology of various cell types and between the two excretory systems and the organs as a whole. The formation of the metanephridial system varies significantly within Mollusca, thus the mode of formation cannot be used as a homology criterion. Because of similarities in overall organization, we conclude that the molluscan metanephridial system is homologous with that of the annelids not only at the cellular but also at the organ level.