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Food availability and physiological state of sea urchin larvae (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)
Meyer, E.; Green, A.J.; Moore, M.; Manahan, D.T. (2007). Food availability and physiological state of sea urchin larvae (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 152(1): 179-191.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Meyer, E.
  • Green, A.J.
  • Moore, M.
  • Manahan, D.T.

    Food availability is highly variable in the ocean. Many species of marine invertebrates have a larval form that depends upon exogenous nutrients for growth, yet there are few biochemical and physiological indices for determining changes in the nutritional status of larvae. In this study, the effects of food availability on biochemical compositions and metabolic processes of larvae of the sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, were determined. Larvae were cultured under different food concentrations (fed-to-excess and unfed) and a suite of biological processes assayed, ranging from measurements at the level of the whole organism to that of specific molecules. These data were normalized to DNA content (an index of cell number) to allow comparisons of physiological rates in larvae of different sizes. Changes in the following were measured during larval growth: free amino acid pool, protein, lipid classes (cholesterol, free fatty acids, hydrocarbons, phospholipids, triacylglycerol), enzyme activities (Na+, K+-ATPase and citrate synthase), and respiration rates. In growing larvae, the two key components that showed differential cell-specific content relative to unfed larvae were glycine in the free amino acid pool and phospholipids. Additionally, several lipid classes were detectable only in fed larvae (cholesterols, free fatty acids, and hydrocarbons). While triacylglycerols were present in eggs and utilized during pre-feeding development, they were not re-accumulated at detectable levels in feeding larvae. Respiration rates, protein content, and enzyme activities were all similar on a cell-specific basis, showing that these variables did not provide useful indices of differences in physiological state between fed and unfed larvae. In contrast, measurements of the cell-specific content of glycine and certain lipid classes did provide useful indices of physiological state of larvae. Application of these indices could potentially allow for determinations of nutritional state of larvae in the ocean.

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