Malacostracan crustaceans show a number of specific apomorphic features regarding germ band differentiation and segment formation. These include the formation of teloblasts as a special expression of a growth zone in the strict sense and the stereotyped cell lineage of the teloblasts’ progeny. This cell lineage allows a very detailed resolution of cell fate during germ band growth and segment formation. Furthermore, a combination of comparative and experimental studies indicates the role of cell lineages for cell determination and the interaction of germ layers. On the other hand, the reasons how and why the stereotyped cell division patterns evolved in the malacostracan stem lineage and why the teloblasts underwent some evolutionary changes concerning their number and arrangement up to a total loss of ectoteloblasts in amphipods circumstances are still obscure. In any case, the observed changes imply interesting problems related to the interface of ontogeny and homology. To address these developmental and evolutionary questions in even greater detail, studies combining new imaging techniques, molecular approaches, and comparative approaches are desirable.


The research summarized in this review has been supported over the years by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and from the Einstein Stiftung. This contribution is a largely modified part of a more comprehensive treatment of crustacean embryology that will be published in the series “The Natural History of the Crustacea.”


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