QH1, a monoclonal antibody that recognizes quail endothelial and haemopoietic cells, was applied to quail blastodiscs in toto, in order to analyse by immunofluorescence the emergence of the vascular tree. The first endothelial cells were detected in the area opaca at the headfold stage and in the area pellucida at the 1-somite stage. Single cells then interconnected progressively, especially in the anterior intestinal portal and along the somites building up the linings of the heart and dorsal aortas. This study demonstrates that endothelial cells differentiate as single entities 4 h earlier in development than hitherto detected and that the vascular network forms secondarily. The horseshoe shape of the extraembryonic area vasculosa is also a secondary acquisition. A nonvascularized area persists until later (at least the 14-somite stage) in the region of the regressing primitive streak.

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