, Volume 150, Issue 6, pp 1191-1197

Very slow development in two Antarctic bivalve molluscs, the infaunal clam Laternula elliptica and the scallop Adamussium colbecki

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Abstract

Embryos of the large infaunal clam Laternula elliptica and the scallop Adamussium colbecki, from Antarctica, were cultured over an 18-month period. Their development rates were extremely slow, taking 240 and 177 h, respectively, to reach the trochophore stage. This is ×4 to ×18 slower than related clams and scallops from temperate latitudes. The relationship between temperature and development rate for bivalve molluscs shows the expected slowing with reduced temperature (Q 10 in the range 2–4) for temperate and tropical species. However, the slowing at polar latitudes is much stronger than at warmer waters, and all of the limited data for Antarctic species are well above the Arrhenius plot for the overall bivalve data, and the Q 10 value for Antarctic to cool temperate species is 11.8, well outside the expected range for biological systems. Either the relationships describing the effects of temperature on the kinetics of biological systems do not apply to Antarctic bivalve molluscs, or some other factor that cannot be compensated for becomes important at low temperature. In the laboratory, L. elliptica embryos stayed viable in very sticky egg capsules for up to 18 months without hatching. However, even the disturbance of removing eggs using a pipette ruptured some egg capsules allowing embryo release. Gametogenesis in Antarctic marine invertebrates is almost universally slowed compared to temperate species, with nearly all cases documented requiring more than 1 year to complete oogenesis. The only exception so far appears to be A. colbecki, which has a 1-year gametogenic cycle. The data here indicate that it has been unable to adapt embryonic development in a similar way, and we are not aware of any exceptions to the markedly slowed development at low temperature rule.

Communicated by J. P. Thorpe, Port Erin.