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Sexual reproduction, larval development and release in Spongia officinalis L. (Porifera, Demospongiae) from the Apulian coast
Baldacconi, R.; Nonnis-Marzano, C.; Gaino, E.; Corriero, G. (2007). Sexual reproduction, larval development and release in Spongia officinalis L. (Porifera, Demospongiae) from the Apulian coast. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 152(4): 969-979.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Baldacconi, R.
  • Nonnis-Marzano, C.
  • Gaino, E.
  • Corriero, G.

    The reproductive cycle of the bath sponge Spongia officinalis L. has been studied over 1 year on 11 tagged specimens of different sizes (from 82 to 886 ml, in volume) from Ionian coasts of Apulia (SE Italy). According to literature data, the sponge is viviparous. All the monitored specimens showed sexual reproduction, even if the process usually involved small portions of the sponge tissue. Ten specimens were gonochoric (sex ratio 1:1), one specimen showed successive hermaphroditism, with alternate production of oocytes and spermatic cysts in the same reproductive season. Young oocytes occur almost all year round, whereas large mature eggs show a peak in October–November, concomitantly with the appearance of spermatic cysts. No relationships were observed between the sponge size and the presence of sexual elements within the range of the sponge size considered in this research. Embryo development occurs in patches of choanosomal tissue, which contain four or more elements. Cleavage is total and equal; it starts in November and in May leads to a solid stereoblastula, which develops into a parenchymella larva, from May to July. The stereoblastula lacks flagella and its surface is delimited by elongated cells well segregated from the internal ones. Parenchymella larvae are released from June to July, asynchronously, either at the individual or population level, with a few days of de-phasing. Up to 523 larval elements/48 h for a sponge specimen were counted. The free-swimming larvae are ovoid and uniformly flagellated. Flagella are longer at the posterior region, than on the rest of the larval body. Flagellated cells form a pseudo-stratified epithelial layer, delimiting the outermost larval surface, and are filled with electron-lucent vesicles showing a homogenous content. No choanocyte chambers, pinacocytes or skeletal elements are present in the newly released larvae.

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