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Data from: A newly identified left–right asymmetry in larval sea urchins

Cite this dataset

Hodin, Jason; Lutek, Keegan; Heyland, Andreas (2016). Data from: A newly identified left–right asymmetry in larval sea urchins [Dataset]. Dryad.


Directional asymmetry (DA) in body form is a widespread phenomenon in animals and plants alike, and a functional understanding of such asymmetries can offer insights into the ways in which ecology and development interface to drive evolution. Echinoids (sea urchins, sand dollars and their kin) with planktotrophic development have a bilaterally symmetrical feeding pluteus larva that undergoes a dramatic metamorphosis into a pentameral juvenile that enters the benthos at settlement. The earliest stage of this transformation involves a DA: a left-side invagination in mid-stage larvae leads to the formation of the oral field of the juvenile via a directionally asymmetric structure called the echinus rudiment. Here, we show for the first time in two echinoid species that there is a corresponding DA in the overall shape of the larva: late-stage plutei have consistently shorter arms specifically on the rudiment (left) side. We then demonstrate a mechanistic connection between the rudiment and arm length asymmetries by examining rare, anomalous purple urchin larvae that have rudiments on both the left and the right side. Our data suggest that this asymmetry is probably a broadly shared feature characterizing ontogeny in the class Echinoidea. We propose several functional hypotheses—including developmental constraints and water column stability—to account for this newly identified asymmetry.

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