2002 Volume 16 Issue 1 Pages 3-11
In vertebrates, only few experiments have been performed in microgravity to study the embryonic development from fertilization. To date, these concern only amphibian and fish. We report here a study on the embryonic development of Pleurodeles waltl (urodele amphibian) eggs oviposited in microgravity. The experiment was performed twice on board the Mir space station and the data obtained included video recording and morphological, histological and immunocytological analyses. The data confirm that the microgravity conditions have effects during the embryonic period, particularly during cleavage and neurulation, inducing irregular segmentation and abnormal closure of the neural tube. Moreover, we observed several abnormalities hither to undescribed corresponding to cortical cytoplasm movements, a decrease of cell adhesion and a loss of cells. These abnormalities were temporary and subsequently reversible. The young larvae that hatched during the flight displayed normal morphology and swimming behavior after landing. The results obtained in the urodele Pleurodeles waltl are in accordance with those observed earlier in the anuran Xenopus laevis and in the fish Oryzias latipes.