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Adaptations to benthic development: Functional morphology of the attachment complex of the brachiolaria larva in the sea star Asterina gibbosa
Haesaerts, D.; Jangoux, M.; Flammang, P. (2006). Adaptations to benthic development: Functional morphology of the attachment complex of the brachiolaria larva in the sea star Asterina gibbosa. Biol. Bull. 211(2): 172-182. dx.doi.org/10.2307/4134591
In: Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory: Lancaster. ISSN 0006-3185, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 230199 [ OMA ]

Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Haesaerts, D.
  • Jangoux, M., more
  • Flammang, P., more

Abstract
    The asteroid Asterina gibbosa lives all its life in close relation to the sea bottom. Indeed, this sea star possesses an entirely benthic, lecithotrophic development. The embryos adhere to the substratum due to particular properties of their jelly coat, and hatching occurs directly at the brachiolaria stage. Brachiolariae have a hypertrophied, bilobed attachment complex comprising two asymmetrical brachiolar arms and a central adhesive disc. This study aims at describing the ultrastructure of the attachment complex and possible adaptations, at the cellular level, to benthic development. Immediately after hatching, early brachiolariae attach by the arms. All along the anterior side of each arm, the epidermis encloses several cell types, such as secretory cells of two types (A and B), support cells, and sensory cells. Like their equivalents in planktotrophic larvae, type A and B secretory cells are presumably involved in a duo-glandular system in which the former are adhesive and the latter de-adhesive in function. Unlike what is observed in planktotrophic larvae, the sensory cells are unspecialized and presumably not involved in substratum testing. During the larval period, the brachiolar arms progressively increase in size and the adhesive disc becomes more prominent. At the onset of metamorphosis, brachiolariae cement themselves strongly to the substratum with the adhesive disc. The disc contains two main cell types, support cells and secretory cells, the latter being responsible for the cement release. During this metamorphosis, the brachiolar arms regress while post-metamorphic structures grow considerably, especially the tube feet, which take over the role of attachment to the substratum. The end of this period corresponds to the complete regression of the external larval structures, which also coincides with the opening of the mouth. This sequence of stages, each possessing its own adhesive strategy, is common to all asteroid species having a benthic development. In A. gibbosa, morphological adaptations to this mode of development include the hypertrophic growth of the attachment complex, its bilobed shape forming an almost completely adhesive sole, and the regression of the sensory equipment.

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