, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 63-74

The reproductive biology of echinothuriid and cidarid sea urchins from the deep sea (Rockall Trough, North-East Atlantic Ocean)

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Abstract

The reproductive biology of 5 species of echinothuriid (Phormosoma placenta, Calveriosoma hystrix, Araeosoma fenestrum, Sperosoma grimaldii and Hygrosoma petersii) and 2 species of cidarid (Cidaris cidaris and Poriocidaris purpurata) sea urchins from the deep sea (Rockall Trough) has been examined from samples collected during 1973–1983. In all species the gonads lie within the interambulacrum attached to aboral gonopores and when fully developed occupy most of the test not occupied by the gut or Aristotle's lantern. In all the species, initial oocyte development takes place along the germinal epithelium embedded in nutritive tissue. In all the echinothuriids and in Poriocidaris purpurata, the oocyte grows to ca. 200 to 450 μm, at which stage vitellogenesis begins. Oocyte growth continues until a maximum egg size of 1 100 to 1 500 μm is attained. In the echinothuriids, two types of nutritive tissue are found. In the carly stages of gametogenesis the oocyte is surrounded by well-structured periodic acid Schiff (PAS)-positive tissue. As the oocyte grows this tissue becomes vacuolated, suggesting that there is a transfer of nutriment to the developing oocyte. In Phormosoma placenta, unspawned oocytes are phagocytosed. There is no evidence of seasonality in any of the echinothuriid species or in Poriocidaris purpurata. Extrapolation with shallow-water echinothuriids suggests that larval development is lecithotrophic, omitting any planktotrophic phase. Of the species examined, only Cidaris cidaris has a reproductive strategy which produces a known larva, although the limited samples did not permit any determination of seasonality in this deep-sea population.

Communicated by J. Mauchline, Oban