Inducing Fertilization and Development in Sand Dollars
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Sand dollars are common marine invertebrates in the phylum Echinodermata and share the same class (Echinoidea) as sea urchins. They have served as model laboratory organisms for such embryologists as Frank Rattray Lillie and Ernest Everett Just. Both Lillie and Just used Echinarachnius parma for their studies of egg cell membranes and embryo development at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in the early 1900s. More recently, William Eugene Berg at the University of California, Berkeley, used Dendraster excentricus, a sand dollar common to the Pacific Coast of the US, to help pioneer the mid-twentieth-century studies of protein synthesis in embryos. Sand dollars are also easy to work with in the classroom, serving as model organisms for the study of fertilization and development.