Marine Biology

, Volume 142, Issue 4, pp 693–706 | Cite as

Reproductive traits in dicyemids

  • H. FuruyaEmail author
  • F. G. Hochberg
  • K. Tsuneki


Several characters involved in the life cycle in dicyemids were examined to understand reproductive strategy and adaptations to cephalopod hosts. In most dicyemids distinctly small numbers of sperms are produced in a hermaphroditic gonad (infusorigen). The number of eggs and sperms are roughly equal (means of the number of sperm:egg=1:1.58). An inverse proportional relationship was found between the number of infusorigens and the gametes, suggesting a trade-off between them. Fecundity was positively correlated with the body size of adult stages (nematogens and rhombogens). Fecundity of a single dicyemid is not very high compared with that of the other endoparasite taxa, but a total reproductive capacity per community is high, because a great number of individuals multiply asexually in the renal sac. The size of mature infusoriform embryos (dispersal embryos) that develop from fertilized eggs was not correlated with their adult sizes, but the size of embryos was correlated with the maximum mantle length of the host octopus species. Although at present the process of infecting new hosts is still unknown, the size of the infusoriform embryo is likely determined by host-specific factors in this process. The size of vermiform embryos that are asexually formed from agametes was positively correlated with size of the adults; however, the number of vermiform embryos present in the axial cell of adults was not correlated with size of the adults. A correlation was not found between maximum mantle length of the host cephalopod species and length of the adult dicyemids. In dicyemid species the size of adults appears to be constrained by the renal habitat, including renal-pancreatic complex and branchial hearts of each host cephalopod species. Size thus may be determined by the volume of the renal sac, the diameter of the renal tubules, or the depth of folding in the surface of glandular renal appendages of cephalopods.


Asexual Reproduction Axial Cell Mantle Length Oocyte Diameter Adult Body Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to express our gratitude to the late Dr. Y. Koshida, Professor Emeritus of Osaka University for his continual advice and suggestions on the biology of dicyemids. We also would like to thank Drs. B.H. McConnaughey, R.B. Short, and J.L. Mohr who donated their collections of dicyemids, which we examined during the course of this study, to the SBMNH. The dicyemid collection of Henri Nouvel (Université Paul-Sabatier) is currently housed in Geneve, Switzerland, at the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle. Portions of his collection were made available to us through the courtesy of S. v. Boletzky (Laboratoire Arago Banyuls, France) and C. Combs (Université de Perpignan, France). This study was supported by grants from the Nakayama Foundation for Human Science, the Research Institute of Marine Invertebrates Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (research grant nos. 12740468 and 14540645), and visiting researcher funds from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.


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© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyGraduate School of Science, Osaka UniversityOsaka 560-0043Japan
  2. 2.Department of Invertebrate ZoologySanta Barbara Museum of Natural HistorySanta BarbaraUSA

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