Sea Urchin Gametes Are An Excellent Model For Observing Vertebrate Development

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Sea urchin gametes are an excellent model for observing vertebrate development. Sea urchins are a low cost species that can be maintained in a laboratory environment, have external fertilization and have distinct stages for viewing development in offspring. They are external breeders, so when the gametes are mature, they are released into seawater. The seawater carries the gametes where they will fertilize and develop. How does the sperm find the eggs? The jelly coating on the mature eggs produce a chemical signal that attracts sperm (Gilbert, 2000). This method of sperm finding egg must have a protection mechanism for the right sperm to find the right egg. The sea urchins have a particular bindin receptors that look specifically for the right eggs (Palumbi, 1999). So when the eggs and sperm are floating in the open water and are able to locate each other. Sea urchins live in different niches and as such they are effected by multiple problems. Each niche has its own predators, chemical compositions and conditions that effect how the sea urchins might develop. If there are toxins within the niche there is a possibility of less embryos developing.
The purpose of this lab is to study the development of the Sea urchin embryos as they mature into plutei larvae. Observing the entire process of: introduction to gametes, sperm and egg meet, fertilization occurs, and cells divide over a period of time leading to plutei larvae.
The lab was…

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