Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus and Scaphechinus mirabilis
Behavior of pigment cells in gastrula-stage embryos of
The behavior of pigment cells in sea urchin embryos, especially at the gastrula stage, is not well understood, due to the lack of an appropriate method to detect pigment cells. We found that pigment cells emanated autofluorescence when they were fixed with formalin and irradiated with ultraviolet or green light. In Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus, fluorescent pigment cells became visible at the archenteron tip at the mid-gastrula stage. The cells detached from the archenteron slightly before the initiation of secondary invagination and migrated toward the apical plate. Most pigment cells entered the apical plate. This entry site seemed to be restricted, because pigment cells could not enter the ectoderm and remained in the blastocoele at the vegetal pole side when elongation of archenteron was blocked. Pigment cells that had entered the apical plate soon began to migrate in the aboral ectoderm toward the vegetal pole. In contrast, pigment cells of Scaphechinus mirabilis embryos were first detected in the vegetal plate before the onset of gastrulation. Without entering the blastocoele, these cells began to migrate preferentially in the aboral ectoderm toward the animal pole. When the archenteron tip reached the apical plate, pigment cells had already distributed throughout the aboral ectoderm. Thus, the behavior of pigment cells was quite different between H. pulcherrimus and S. mirabilis..