Frontiers in Zoology (Oct 2008)

Parasegmental appendage allocation in annelids and arthropods and the homology of parapodia and arthropodia

  • Prpic Nikola-Michael

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5, no. 1
p. 17


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Abstract The new animal phylogeny disrupts the traditional taxon Articulata (uniting arthropods and annelids) and thus calls into question the homology of the body segments and appendages in the two groups. Recent work in the annelid Platynereis dumerilii has shown that although the set of genes involved in body segmentation is similar in the two groups, the body units of annelids correspond to arthropod parasegments not segments. This challenges traditional ideas about the homology of "segmental" organs in annelids and arthropods, including their appendages. Here I use the expression of engrailed, wingless and Distal-less in the arthropod Artemia franciscana to identify the parasegment boundary and the appendage primordia. I show that the early body organization including the appendage primordia is parasegmental and thus identical to the annelid organization and by deriving the different adult appendages from a common ground plan I suggest that annelid and arthropod appendages are homologous structures despite their different positions in the adult animals. This also has implications for the new animal phylogeny, because it suggests that Urprotostomia was not only parasegmented but also had parasegmental appendages similar to extant annelids, and that limb-less forms in the Protostomia are derived from limb-bearing forms.