Neurogenesis in myriapods and chelicerates and its importance for understanding arthropod relationships

Angelika Stollewerk*, Ariel D. Chipman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Several alternative hypotheses on the relationships between the major arthropod groups are still being discussed. We reexamine here the chelicerate/myriapod relationship by comparing previously published morphological data on neurogenesis in the euarthropod groups and presenting data on an additional myriapod (Strigamia maritima). Although there are differences in the formation of neural precursors, most euarthropod species analyzed generate about 30 single neural precursors (insects/crustaceans) or precursor groups (chelicerates/myriapods) per hemisegment that are arranged in a regular pattern. The genetic network involved in recruitment and specification of neural precursors seems to be conserved among euarthropods. Furthermore, we show here that neural precursor identity seems to be achieved in a similar way. Besides these conserved features we found 2 characters that distinguish insects/crustaceans from myriapods/chelicerates. First, in insects and crustaceans the neuroectoderm gives rise to epidermal and neural cells, whereas in chelicerates and myriapods the central area of the neuroectoderm exclusively generates neural cells. Second, neural cells arise by stem-cell-like divisions of neuroblasts in insects and crustaceans, whereas groups of mainly postmitotic neural precursors are recruited for the neural fate in chelicerates and myriapods. We discuss whether these characteristics represent a sympleisiomorphy of myriapods and chelicerates that has been lost in the more derived Pancrustacea or whether these characteristics are a synapomorphy of myriapods and chelicerates, providing the first morphological support for the Myriochelata group.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)195-206
Number of pages12
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the organizers of the symposium for the opportunity to present our work. We are grateful to Michael Akam and Pat Simpson for providing lab space and for helpful discussions. Thanks to Pat Simpson for critical reading of the manuscript. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (A.S.) and Federation of European Biochemical Societies (A.D.C.) supported this research.


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