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Feeding by larvae of two different developmental modes in Streblospio benedicti (Polychaeta: Spionidae)
Pernet, B.; McArthur, L. (2006). Feeding by larvae of two different developmental modes in Streblospio benedicti (Polychaeta: Spionidae). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 149(4): 803-811.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Pernet, B.
  • McArthur, L.

    Females of the spionid polychaete Streblospio benedicti (Webster) produce either small eggs (60–70 µm diameter) and planktotrophic larvae, or large eggs (100–200 µm) and lecithotrophic larvae that reportedly do not feed. This intraspecific polymorphism, a form of poecilogony, is potentially useful in studies of larval ecology and evolution, but necessary data on larval form and function are lacking. This study describes the morphology and nutritional biology of larvae obtained from Atlantic (South Carolina) and Pacific (California and Washington) populations from 2003 to 2005. The two types of larvae produced by Atlantic S. benedicti differed greatly in length (229±22 µm SD for planktotrophs vs. 638±40 µm for lecithotrophs) and chaetiger number (2–5 vs. 10–11) at release from the female’s brood pouch. Planktotrophic larvae bore long provisional chaetae on their first chaetiger; provisional chaetae were absent in lecithotrophic larvae. Larvae from Pacific populations were all of the lecithotrophic form, and were similar to their Atlantic counterparts in all respects. High-speed video microscopy revealed that both types of larvae used opposed bands of cilia to capture suspended particles and transport them to the mouth, where they were often ingested. Lecithotrophic larvae reared with suspended phytoplankton (Rhodomonas sp., 104 cells ml-1) for 2 days grew significantly faster than sibling larvae reared without added food, indicating that these larvae can digest and assimilate ingested food. Larvae of S. benedicti that develop from large eggs are thus facultative planktotrophs instead of obligately non-feeding lecithotrophs, a result that affects the interpretation of comparative studies of the ecology and evolution of larvae in S. benedicti and certain other marine invertebrates.

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