Postprint of: Swanson, RL, Byrne, M, Prowse, TA, Dworjanyn, SA, Mos, B & Steinberg, PD 2012, 'Dissolved histamine: a potential habitat marker promoting settlement and metamorphosis in sea urchin larvae', Marine Biology: international journal on life in oceans and coastal waters, vol. 159, no. 4, pp. 915-925.
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Many species of marine invertebrate larvae settle and metamorphose in response to chemicals produced by organisms associated with the adult habitat, and histamine is a cue for larvae of the sea urchin Holopneustes purpurascens. This study investigated the effect of histamine on larval metamorphosis of six sea urchin species. Histamine induced metamorphosis in larvae of three lecithotrophic species (H. purpurascens, Holopneustes inflatus and Heliocidaris erythrogramma) and in one planktotrophic species (Centrostephanus rodgersii). Direct comparisons of metamorphic rates of lecithotrophic and planktotrophic larvae in assays cannot be made due to different proportions of larvae being competent. Histamine (10 μM) induced metamorphosis in 95% of larvae of H. purpurascens and H. inflatus after 1 h, while the coralline alga Amphiroa anceps induced metamorphosis in 40–50% of these larvae. Histamine (10 μM) and A. anceps induced 40 and 80% metamorphosis, respectively, in the larvae of H. erythrogramma after 24 h. Histamine (10 μM) and the coralline alga Corallina sp. induced 30 and 70% metamorphosis, respectively, in the larvae of C. rodgersii after 24 h. No metamorphosis of any larval species occurred in seawater controls. Larvae of two planktotrophic species (Tripneustes gratilla and Heliocidaris tuberculata) did not metamorphose in response to histamine. Seagrasses, the host plants of H. inflatus, induced rapid metamorphosis in larvae of the two Holopneustes species, and several algae induced metamorphosis in C. rodgersii larvae. Histamine leaching from algae and seagrasses may act as a habitat marker and metamorphic cue for larvae of several ecologically important sea urchin species.