Direct development is a common reproductive mode in Living amphibians characterized by absence of the free-living, aquatic larval stage. In Eleutherodactylus, a species-rich genus of New World frogs, evolution of direct development from the ancestral biphasic ontogeny is correlated with a comprehensive modification in embryonic cranial patterning, including the loss of many larval-specific components and the precocious formation of many adult (postmetamorphic) structures, We use scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to examine the emergence and early migration of cranial neural crest cells in Eleutherodactylus coqui to begin to assess the possible role of the neural crest in mediating these evolutionary changes. As in metamorphosing frogs, cranial crest cells emerge prior to neural fold closure and assemble into three streams: rostral, rostral otic, and caudal otic. These streams contribute to the face and first visceral (mandibular) arch, to the second (hyoid) arch, and to posterior (branchial) arches, respectively. Rostrocaudal position, morphology, and/or migration patterns distinguish subpopulations of cells within the rostral stream and caudal otic stream. With the possible exception of the small size of the rostral otic and caudal otic streams, evolution of direct development in E. coqui has not altered basic patterns of neural crest emergence or early migration as assessed by SEM. Lf observed evolutionary changes in embryonic cranial patterning are mediated by the neural crest, then they likely involve later aspects of crest migration or more subtle features related to pattern formation such as cell behavior and commitment, or gene expression.
Tv498Times Cited:23Cited References Count:49