MEPS 202:153-162 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps202153

Variation in attachment of the barnacle Balanus amphitrite: sensation or something else?

Eric R. Holm, Marion McClary Jr, Daniel Rittschof*

Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Settlement, attachment, and metamorphosis of larvae of marine invertebrates is extremely variable in the laboratory and in nature. The relative contributions of genetic, ontogenetic and environmental effects to this variation are not well understood. We tested for genetic, maternal and ontogenetic effects on permanent attachment of cyprids of the barnacle Balanus amphitrite (Darwin). Larvae were assayed for attachment in response to a control treatment and 3 artificial inducers: 20 hydroxyecdysone (20-HE), 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX), and phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDB). We observed strong family effects on attachment in the control, 20-HE, and IBMX treatments, suggesting that attachment in response to these treatments is influenced by genetic or maternal factors. In addition, attachment responses were correlated, indicating that the same genetic or maternal factors may affect attachment in each treatment. Family effects on attachment in the control treatments decreased with cypris age, suggesting the loss of genetically- or maternally-influenced discriminatory behavior in older larvae. The mechanisms underlying genetic or maternal effects on attachment may act via the external receptors and signal-transduction pathways regulating larval responses. Alternatively, there may be variation in larval Œvigor¹ or the rate at which cyprids attain metamorphic competence.


KEY WORDS: Balanus amphitrite · Barnacle · Larvae · Attachment · Variation · Genetics


Full text in pdf format