Despite easy access to bivalves, few studies have examined the development of these animals, at least in part because most bivalve eggs are very small. In addition, annotating cells of the early bivalve embryo is difficult because few landmarks are present. We conducted detailed cell annotations of the Japanese purple mussel, Septifer virgatus, during early embryogenesis because of its relatively large eggs (ca. 130 m in diameter). Septifer virgatus underwent the unique cell division profile reported for four other bivalve species, suggesting that the cleavage pattern itself is important for bivalve morphogenesis. The shell field invagination was led by 2d (X) lineage cells, supporting the hypothesis that lineage cells differentiate into cells excreting the shell matrix. The large egg size enabled us to trace cell movements in the early gastrulation phase, during which the invagination of the archenteron was initiated by 4d (M) lineage cells. These observations will serve as a basis for future analyses of S. virgatus embryogenesis and will contribute to understanding the evolution of the molluscan body plan, which is achieved by modification of early embryogenesis.
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