Marine Biology

, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 243-247

First online:

Effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid on the settlement of larvae of the black chiton Katharina tunicata

  • S. S. RumrillAffiliated withJoseph M. Long Marine Laboratory, Center for Coastal Marine Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz
  • , R. A. CameronAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Sciences, University of Puerto Rico

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Laboratory-cultured larvae of the black chiton Katharina tunicata (Wood), collected from central California in May and June of 1979 and 1980, settled preferentially on the encrusting coralline alga Lithothamnium sp. Metamorphosis, which involves the loss of the prototrochal ciliary band, occurred within a period of 2.5 h after larvae began crawling upon the alga. In response to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at a concentration of 10-6 M, the lecithotrophic trochophore larvae ceased swimming and settled rapidly. Developmental metamorphosis did not follow settlement in the absence of encrusting coralline alga. However, when both GABA and Lithothamnium sp. were present, larval metamorphosis occurred within 2 h of settlement. Significantly different rates of settlement exist for sibling larvae of different ages; 12 d-old larvae responded more rapily and in greater numbers to treatment with GABA than 10 d-old larvae. Differences in settling rates are attributed to the onset of metamorphic competence.