Gametogenesis, embryogenesis, and larval features of the oviparous sponge Petrosia ficiformis (Haplosclerida, Demospongiae)

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This study describes the reproductive cycle of Petrosia ficiformis and documents for the first time embryogenesis in an oviparous haplosclerid demosponge. Gonochoric adults, occurring in 2:1 female/male ratios, spawned in late autumn, after a 7-month long oogenesis and a 2.5-week-long spermatogenesis. Following a remarkable migration, the oocytes were released as 250 μm eggs bearing attached polar bodies and a thin mucous cover. Round-headed spermatozoa with three large mitochondria, and many proacrosomal vesicles fertilized the eggs externally. A fertilization membrane appeared around the zygotes. Nearly equal and total cleavage led to a stereoblastula that subsequently became an entirely ciliated larva. The larva alternated spherical and multilobate body shape and consisted of undifferentiated cells. It had poor abilities to swim and glide, probably experiencing passive dispersal and unselective attachment. Settlers developed choanocyte chambers after 1.5 months. Symbiotic microbes were absent from gametes and larvae, being necessarily acquired from the ambient at each sponge generation.

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The authors thank Alba Canyelles, Laura Núñez, Guillem Roca, and Sergio Taboada for help in fieldwork and Almudena García (Microscopy Service, UB) for help with TEM sample processing. We also thank Francesc Gómez for help with video processing. This study was funded by 2 grants of the Spanish Government (CTM2005-05366/MAR and BFU2008-00227/BMC).

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Correspondence to Manuel Maldonado.

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Communicated by M. Byrne.

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Maldonado, M., Riesgo, A. Gametogenesis, embryogenesis, and larval features of the oviparous sponge Petrosia ficiformis (Haplosclerida, Demospongiae). Mar Biol 156, 2181–2197 (2009).

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  • Sponge
  • Polar Body
  • Mature Oocyte
  • Nurse Cell
  • Glycogen Granule