Patterns of comb row development in young and adult stages of the ctenophores Mnemiopsis leidyi and Pleurobrachia pileus. Academic Article uri icon


  • The development of comb rows in larval and adult Mnemiopsis leidyi and adult Pleurobrachia pileus is compared to regeneration of comb plates in these ctenophores. Late gastrula embryos and recently hatched cydippid larvae of Mnemiopsis have five comb plates in subsagittal rows and six comb plates in subtentacular rows. Subsagittal rows develop a new (sixth) comb plate and both types of rows add plates at similar rates until larvae reach the transition to the lobate form at ?5 mm size. New plate formation then accelerates in subsagittal rows that later extend on the growing oral lobes to become twice the length of subtentacular rows. Interplate ciliated grooves (ICGs) develop in an aboral-oral direction along comb rows, but ICG formation itself proceeds from oral to aboral between plates. New comb plates in Mnemiopsis larvae are added at both aboral and oral ends of rows. At aboral ends, new plates arise as during regeneration: local widening of a ciliated groove followed by formation of a short split plate that grows longer and wider and joins into a common plate. At oral ends, new plates arise as a single tuft of cilia before an ICG appears. Adult Mnemiopsis continue to make new plates at both ends of rows. The frequency of new aboral plate formation varies in the eight rows of an animal and seems unrelated to body size. In Pleurobrachia that lack ICGs, new comb plates at aboral ends arise between the first and second plates as a single small nonsplit plate, located either on the row midline or off-axis toward the subtentacular plane. As the new (now second) plate grows larger, its distance from the first and third plates increases. Size of the new second plate varies within the eight rows of the same animal, indicating asynchronous formation of plates as in Mnemiopsis. New oral plates arise as in Mnemiopsis. The different modes of comb plate formation in Mnemiopsis versus Pleurobrachia are accounted for by differences in mesogleal firmness and mechanisms of ciliary coordination. In both cases, the body of a growing ctenophore is supplied with additional comb plates centripetally from opposite ends of the comb rows.

publication date

  • September 2012