Metamorphosis in balanomorphan, pedunculated, and parasitic barnacles: a video-based analysis

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Cypris metamorphosis was followed using video microscopy in four species of cirripeds representing the suspension-feeding pedunculated and sessile Thoracica and the parasitic Rhizocephala. Cirripede metamorphosis involves one or more highly complex molts that mark the change from a free cypris larva to an attached suspension feeder (Thoracica) or an endoparasite (Rhizocephala). The cyprids and juveniles are so different in morphology that they are functionally incompatible. The drastic reorganization of the body implicated in the process can therefore only commence after the cyprid has irreversibly cemented itself to a substratum. In both Megabalanus rosa and Lepas, the settled cyprid first passes through a quiescent period of tissue reorganization, in which the body is raised into a position vertical to the substratum. In Lepas, this is followed by extension of the peduncle. In both Lepas and M. rosa, the juvenile must free itself from the cypris cuticle by an active process before it can extend the cirri for suspension feeding. In M. rosa, the juvenile performs intensely pulsating movements that result in shedding of the cypris carapace ~8¿h after settlement. Lepas sp. sheds the cypris cuticle ~2 days after settlement due to contractile movements of the peduncle. In Lepas anserifera, the juvenile actively breaks through the cypris carapace, which can thereafter remain for several days without impeding cirral feeding. Formation of the shell plates begins after 1-2 days under the cyprid carapace in Lepas. In M. rosa, the free juvenile retains its very thin cuticle and flexible shape for some time, and shell plates do not appear until sometime after shedding of the cypris cuticles. In Sacculina carcini, the cypris settles at the base of a seta on the host crab and remains quiescent and aligned at an angle of ~60° to the crab's cuticle. The metamorphosis involves two molts, resulting in the formation of an elongated kentrogon stage with a hollow injection stylet. Due to the orientation of the cyprid, the stylet points directly towards the base of the crab's seta. Approximately 60¿h after settlement the stylet penetrates down one of the cyprid antennules and into the crab. Almost immediately afterwards the unsegmented vermigon stage, preformed in the kentrogon, passes down through the hollow stylet and into the crab's hemocoel in a process lasting only 30¿s. In S. carcini, the carapace can remain around the metamorphosing individual without impeding the process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)337-347
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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