Embryonic and larval development of the host sea anemones Entacmaea quadricolor and Heteractis crispa

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Scott, A & Harrison PL 2007, 'Embryonic and larval development of the host sea anemones Entacmaea quadricolor and Heteractis crispa', Biological Bulletin, vol. 213, no. 2, pp. 110-121.

The publisher's version of this article is available at http://www.biolbull.org/content/vol213/issue2/

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Little information is available on the sexual reproductive biology of anemones that provide essential habitat for anemonefish. Here we provide the first information on the surface ultrastructural and morphological changes during development of the embryos and planula larvae of Entacmaea quadricolor and Heteractis crispa, using light and scanning electron microscopy. Newly spawned eggs of E. quadricolor and H. crispa averaged 794 µm and 589 µm diameter, respectively, and were covered by many spires of microvilli that were evenly distributed over the egg surface, except for a single bare patch. Eggs of both species contained abundant zooxanthellae when spawned, indicating vertical transmission of symbionts. Fertilization was external, and the resulting embryos displayed superficial cleavage. As development continued, individual blastomeres became readily distinguishable and a round-to-ovoid blastula was formed, which flattened with further divisions. The edges of the blastula thickened, creating a concave-convex dish-shaped gastrula. The outer margins of the gastrula appeared to roll inward, leading to the formation of an oral pore and a ciliated planula larva. Larval motility and directional movement were first observed 36 h after spawning. E. quadricolor larval survival remained high during the first 4 d after spawning, then decreased rapidly.