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Conquering terra firma: The copper problem from the isopod's point of view
Wieser, W. (1967). Conquering terra firma: The copper problem from the isopod's point of view. Helgol. Wiss. Meeresunters. 15(1-4): 282-293.
In: Helgoländer Wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen. Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Hamburg. ISSN 0017-9957, more
Also appears in:
Kinne, O.; Aurich, H. (Ed.) (1967). Vorträge und Diskussionen. Erstes Europäisches Symposion über Meeresbiologie = Papers and discussions. First European Symposium on Marine Biology = Rapports et discussions. Premier symposium européen sur biologie marine. Helgoländer Wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen, 15(1-4). Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Hamburg. 669 pp., more
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  • Wieser, W.

    1. Copper is an element of great importance for crustaceans such as isopods and amphipods. While their marine relatives can obtain all necessary chemical components from the surrounding sea water via gills or other epithelia, the species which have conquered terra firma face the problem of extracting practically all vital substances from their food.2. In marine forms, the water flow maintained via ciliary or muscular mechanisms is sufficient to provide several orders of magnitude more copper than required; food probably plays only a minor role in copper supply.3. Terrestrial isopods have to rely entirely on their food as a source of copper. They can do several things in order to ensure an adequate supply: increase food consumption, improve the selective absorption of copper from the food material passing through the gut (possibly in symbiosis with copper concentrating micro-organisms), increase copper stores, thus widening safety margins for times of low supply, reduce copper losses by regulating the transport of this metal between the stores and other body parts.4. It was shown that terrestrial isopods consume about as much food as their marine relatives.5. Extraction of copper from primary vegetable matter seems to be very difficult, both for terrestrial forms likePorcellio scaber and for intertidal forms such asLigia oceanica or the amphipodOrchestia gammarella; extraction is possible only at very high copper concentrations.6. A way out of this calamitous situation seems to be in cooperation with micro-organisms which liberate copper from the tightly bound states in which it exists in the primary plant material. This is true forP. scaber but it probably also holds forO. gammerella, L. oceanica and other species feeding on decaying algae on the shore.7. The amount of copper stored in the hepatopancreas increases with increasing dependence of the species on the terrestrial environment, the values obtained for intertidal species being intermediate between marine and truly terrestrial species.8.P. scaber (and probablyOniscus asellus) will extract up to 95% of the copper present in artificially enriched leaf litter whereas intertidal forms feeding onFucus will not extract more than 50%, mostly only 20% or less, from artificially enriched seaweeds.9. Copper is more strictly relegated to ldquostorage cellsrdquo of the hepatopancreas in terrestrial isopods than it is in marine or intertidal ones. Extensive movements of copper inP. scaber are accompanied by the synthesis of special ldquocarrier proteinsrdquo, whereas in marine or intertidal species this metal seems to be able to move more freely in an easily dissociable state between the storage cells and other cells of the hepatopancreas.

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