Tail regeneration in a cephalochordate, the Bahamas lancelet, Asymmetron lucayanum

Nicholas D. Holland, Ildiko M. L. Somorjai

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Lancelets (Phylum Chordata, subphylum Cephalochordata) readily regenerate a lost tail. Here, we use light microscopy and serial blockface scanning electron microscopy (SBSEM) to describe tail replacement in the Bahamas lancelet, Asymmetron lucayanum. One day after amputation, the monolayered epidermis has migrated over the wound surface. At 4 days, the regenerate is about 3% as long as the tail length removed. The re-growing nerve cord is a tubular outgrowth of ependymal cells, and the new part of the notochord consists of several degenerating lamellar cells anterior to numerous small vacuolated cells. The cut edges of the mesothelium project into the regenerate as tubular extensions. These tubes anastomose with each other and with midline mesodermal canals beneath the regenerating edges of the dorsal and ventral fins. SBSEM did not reveal a blastema-like aggregation of undifferentiated cells anywhere in the regenerate. At 6?days, the regenerate (10% of the amputated tail length) includes a notochord in which the small vacuolated cells mentioned above are differentiating into lamellar cells. At 10?days, the regenerate is 22% of the amputated tail length: myocytes have appeared in the walls of the myomeres, and sclerocoels have formed. By 14?days, the regenerate is 35% the length of the amputated tail, and the new tissues resemble smaller versions of those originally lost. The present results for A. lucayanum, a species regenerating quickly and with little inter-specimen variability, provide the morphological background for future cell-tracer, molecular genetic, and genomic studies of cephalochordate regeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
JournalJournal of Morphology
Issue number2
Early online date12 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Amphioxus
  • Cephalochordata
  • Serial blockface scanning electron microscopy (SBSEM)


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