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Delayed insemination results in embryo mortality in a brooding ascidian
Stewart-Savage, J.; Phillippi, A.; Yund, Ph.O. (2001). Delayed insemination results in embryo mortality in a brooding ascidian. Biol. Bull. 201: 52-58
In: Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory: Lancaster. ISSN 0006-3185, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Stewart-Savage, J.
  • Phillippi, A.
  • Yund, Ph.O.

    We explored the effects of temporal variation in sperm availability on fertilization and subsequent larval development in the colonial ascidian Botryllus schlosseri, a brooding hermaphrodite that has a sexual cycle linked to an asexual zooid replacement cycle. We developed a method to quantify the timing of events early in this cycle, and then isolated colonies before the start of the cycle and inseminated them at various times. Colony-wide fertilization levels (assayed by early cleavage) increased from zero to 100% during the period when the siphons of a new generation of zooids were first opening, and remained high for 24 h before slowly declining over the next 48 h. Because embryos are brooded until just before the zooids degenerate at the end of a cycle, delayed fertilization might also affect whether embryos can complete development within the cycle. Consequently, we also determined the effect of delayed insemination on successful embryo development through larval release and metamorphosis. When fertilization was delayed beyond the completion of siphon opening, there was an exponential decline in the percentage of eggs that ultimately produced a metamorphosed larva at the end of the cycle. Thus, even though the majority of oocytes can be fertilized when insemination is delayed for up to 48 h, the resulting embryos cannot complete development before the brooding zooids degenerate.

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