I recently finished my PhD in Lowe Lab at the Hopkin’s Marine Station.
My thesis work involved studying an indirect developing enteropneust hemichordate worm Schizocardium californicum with distinct larval and adult body plans. While which the most common developmental strategy in many animal phyla, much of what we know about development comes from direct-developing species. Across metazoan diversity, some indirect developing animals remodel and transform an existing larval body into the adult body plan. Many questions remain in regard to the general mechanisms of these processes. Do the larval cells of indirect developing animals have a distinct larval fate or trajectory? In this scheme of indirect development, larval-specific cells must be eliminated, and new cells must proliferate to form the adult body plan. Or, is it possible that larval cell types retain developmental plasticity and have the capacity to differentiate into the appropriate cells of the adult body plan? In an animal that transforms an existing body from larva to adult, these transitions provide a window into tissue turnover and remodeling, an important focus of cell and developmental biology.