On the Diversity of the Initial Steps of Embryonic Development in Anuran Amphibians

Alexey G. Desnitskiy


Literature describing peculiarities of embryonic cleavage in various frog families is reviewed. In a number of representatives of Eleutherodactylidae, Hemiphractidae, Myobatrachidae, Rhacophorinae, and some other families (subfamilies), the synchrony of animal blastomere divisions is lost already at early stages of the cleavage in large, yolk-rich, and unpigmented or weakly pigmented eggs. The «standard» frog cleavage (usually exemplified in embryological textbooks by Xenopus laevis, Rana pipiens or Rana temporaria), which includes about 10 – 12 synchronous divisions of comparatively small pigmented eggs with moderate yolk content, is characteristic not of all anuran amphibians. The evolutionary relationships between two main types of anuran early embryogenesis and a putative link of reproductive mode and cleavage pattern are discussed. For the advanced frogs (Neobatrachia), the standard pattern of cleavage (usually occurring in lentic water) seems to be a more primitive condition and several derived reproductive modes may produce similar effects on the early cleavage pattern. Thus, the repeated evolutionary transitions to the «nonstandard» pattern of cleavage might have occurred in various neobatrachian frog families.


cleavage; diversity; evolution of development; frogs; reproductive modes

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30906/1026-2296-2012-19-3-221–231


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