Early cell lineages and arrangement of blastomeres in C. elegans are similar to the pattern found in Ascaris and other studied nematodes leading to the assumption that embryonic development shows little variation within the phylum Nematoda. However, analysis of a larger variety of species from various branches of the phylogenetic tree demonstrate that prominent variations in crucial steps of early embryogenesis exist among representatives of this taxon. So far, most of these variations have only been studied on a descriptive level and thus essentially nothing is known about their molecular or genetic basis. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the limited morphological diversity of the freshly hatched juvenile and the uniformity of the basic body plan contrast with the many modifications in the way a worm is generated from the egg cell. This chapter focuses on the initial phase between egg activation and gastrulation and deals with the following aspects: reproduction and diploidy, polarity, cleavage and germ line, cell lineages; cell cycles and maternal contribution, cell-cell communication and cell specification, gastrulation.
Schierenberg, E. (2006). Embryological variation during nematode development. WormBook : The Online Review of C. Elegans Biology. https://doi.org/10.1895/wormbook.1.55.1