Ultrastructure of the coeloms of auricularia larval (emHolothuroidea Echinodermata/em): evidence for the presence of an axocoel

E. J. Balser, E. E. Ruppert, William Jaeckle

Research output: Journal ArticleArticlepeer-review


A hallmark feature of echinoderm larvae is the development of the left anterior coelom. This coelom, called the axohydrocoel, consists of the morphologically distinct, but undivided, left axocel and hydrocel. The axocoelic portion forms a duct that opens to the exterior via a pore on the dorsal surface of the animal. Holothuroid larvae are thought to lack an axocoel, but develop an anterior coelom, duct, and pore that are regarded as parts of the hydrocoel. New ultrastructural data, however, show that holothuroid auricularia larvae possess an axocel and hydrocel united together into an axohydrocoel. During development the anterior coelom consists of an interconnected left somatocoel, hydrocoel, and axocoel. The left somatocoel separates from the axohydrocoel and subdivides into left and right somatocoels. The somatocoels and hydrocoel region of the axohydrocoel are lined by a monociliated mesothelium having characteristics of transporting epithelia. The axocoel epithelium, like that of asteroid larvae, is composed of mesothelial podocytes. A duct connects the axocoel directly to the open dorsal pore and is lined with a columnar transporting epithelium. The occurrence of a specialized podocyte-lined cavity between the surface pore and the hydrocoel in echinoderm larvae is indicative of an axocoel. That similar structures occur in auricularia larvae supports the identification of an axocoel in holothuroids.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalBiological Bulletin
StatePublished - 1993


  • Biology
  • Physiology

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