Maternal provisioning for larvae and larval provisioning for juveniles in the toxopneustid sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla

M. Byrne*, T. A A Prowse, M. A. Sewell, S. Dworjanyn, J. E. Williamson, D. Vaïtilingon

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Lipid and protein biochemistry of eggs (84 μm in diameter), embryos and early larvae of the tropical echinoid Tripneustes gratilla (Linnaeus 1758) were quantified to determine how maternal provisions are used to fuel development of the echinopluteus. The eggs contained a mean of 30.82 ng lipid and 87.32 ng protein. Energetic lipids were the major lipid component (55.52% of total lipid) with the major class being triglyceride (TG: mean 15.9 ng, 51.58% of total). Structural lipid was dominated by phospholipid (PL: mean 11.18 ng, 36.26% of total). Early embryogenesis was not a major drain on egg energetic lipid and protein. Development of the functional feeding larva used ca. 50% of initial egg energetic lipid and most of this was TG. Maternal TG was still present in the 8-day echinoplutei and it was estimated that this energetic lipid would be depleted in unfed larvae by day 10. There was no change in PL. In a separate experiment lipid biochemistry of rudiment stage larvae and early developing juveniles were quantified to determine how lipids are used during metamorphosis. Fed larvae accumulated lipid (mean 275.49 ng) with TG and PL being the major energetic and structural lipids, respectively. Larval lipid stores were not appreciably depleted by metamorphosis and so were available for the early benthic stage juvenile. Juveniles started their benthic existence with 314 ng total lipid (TG: mean 46.84 ng, 14.9% of total, PL: mean 137.51 ng, 43.67% of total). Nile Red histochemistry and histology showed that the stomach serves as a nutrient storage organ and, that lipid stores accrued by larvae sustain developing juveniles for up to 4 days post settlement. Triglyceride supported both non-feeding stages of development and the prefeeding larval and perimetamorphic benthic stage. In this first study of lipid stores in settlement stage echinoderm larvae, we show that T. gratilla larvae sequester the same major energetic lipid (TG) to support the early juvenile that the female parent provided them to fuel early development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)473-482
    Number of pages10
    JournalMarine Biology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


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