Developing oocytes of the cnidarian Bunodosoma cavernata are located within the mesoglea of the mesenteries of the gastrovascular cavity. The cortex of the more mature vitellogenic oocytes contains numerous, electron-dense, membrane-bound, cortical granules. The surface of these oocytes possesses prominent radially projecting structures termed cytospines. Each cytospine has a core of microfilaments, 50–70 Å in diameter, that extends basally as a rootlet through the cortical layer. During spawning, ova lacking any extraneous investments are released from the enclosing gastrodermis. As a consequence of fertilization or events associated with the earliest stages of development the ova undergo a massive cortical reaction. This reaction, which occurs during or just after release of the ova, involves extensive reorganization of the cortical layer. The cortical granule membranes and egg surface membrane fuse and vesiculate resulting in the massive discharge of granule contents. This event is accompanied by the loss of vesicular remnants of cortical ooplasm and the disruption of cytospine organization. Light and electron microscope comparisons of unreacted and reacted eggs show that the reaction results in a significant decrease in egg diameter with the oolemma of the reacted egg reorganizing in a position centripetal to its original location.

This content is only available as a PDF.