Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 5, pp 1071–1077

Selfing in Parvulastra exigua: an asterinid sea star with benthic development

  • Sergio S. Barbosa
  • O. Selma Klanten
  • Hugh Jones
  • Maria Byrne
Original Paper


Parvulastra exigua, a species that lacks a dispersive larva, is paradoxically one of the most widely distributed and abundant sea stars in Australia. The potential that self-fertilization and successful development of self-generated progeny might contribute to population maintenance in this species was investigated through induction of spawning in isolated individuals collected from five populations near Sydney, New South Wales (34°S, 151°E), during the spawning period (August–October 2010, 2011). Evidence of selfing differed significantly among the five populations but the level of selfing within individual egg masses did not. Overall, there was a mean of 8.9% fertilization in egg masses with embryos. Some clutches developed to the juvenile stage while others arrested development before hatching. The presence of miniscule testis tissue in gonads that appeared to be ovaries indicated that hermaphroditism may be more common in some populations than indicated by anatomy. Mixed mating (selfing + outcrossing), pseudocopulation during egg laying and developmental success of self-fertilized embryos may contribute to the ecological success of P. exigua. These might influence population genetic structure and would facilitate establishment of founder populations by a small number of migrants.


  1. Arrontes J, Underwood AJ (1991) Experimental studies on some aspects of the feeding ecology of the intertidal starfish Patiriella exigua. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 148:255–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ayre DJ, Minchinton TE, Perrin C (2009) Does life history predict past and current connectivity for rocky intertidal invertebrates across a marine biogeographic barrier? Mol Ecol 18:887–1903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boissin E, Hoareau TB, Féral JP, Chenuil A (2008) Extreme selfing rates in the cosmopolitan brittle star species complex Amphipholis squamata: data from progeny-array and heterozygote deficiency. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 361:151–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brazeau DA, Lasker HR (1992) Reproductive success in the Caribbean octocoral Briareum asbestinum. Mar Biol 114:157–163Google Scholar
  5. Brazeau DA, Gleason DF, Morgan ME (1998) Self-fertilization in brooding Caribbean corals: evidence from molecular markers. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 231:225–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Byrne M (1991) Reproduction, development and population biology of the Caribbean ophiuroid Ophionereis olivacea a protandrous hermaphrodite that broods its young. Mar Biol 111:387–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Byrne M (1992) Reproduction of sympatric populations of Patiriella gunnii, P. calcar and P. exigua in New South Wales, asterinid seastars with direct development. Mar Biol 114:297–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Byrne M (1995) Changes in larval morphology in the evolution of benthic development by Patiriella exigua (Asteroidea), a comparison with the larvae of Patiriella species with planktonic development. Biol Bull 188:293–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Byrne M (1996) Viviparity and intragonadal cannibalism in the diminutive sea stars Patiriella vivipara and P. parvivipara (Family Asterinidae). Mar Biol 125:551–567Google Scholar
  10. Byrne M (2005) Viviparity in the sea star Cryptasterina hystera (Asterinidae): conserved and modified features in reproduction and development. Biol Bull 208:81–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Byrne M (2006) Life history diversity and evolution in the Asterinidae. Int Comp Biol 46:243–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Byrne M, Anderson MJ (1994) Hybridization of sympatric Patiriella species (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) in New South Wales. Evolution 48:564–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Byrne M, Walker SJ (2007) Distribution and reproduction of intertidal species of Aquilonastra and Cryptasterina (Asterinidae) from One Tree Reef, Southern Great Barrier Reef. Bull Mar Sci 81:209–218Google Scholar
  14. Cohen S (1990) Outcrossing in field populations of two species of self-fertile ascidians. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 140:147–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Colgan DJ, Byrne M, Rickard E, Castro LR (2005) Limited nucleotide divergence over large spatial scales in the asterinid sea star Patiriella exigua. Mar Biol 146:263–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dartnall AJ (1971) Australian sea stars of the genus Patiriella (Asteroidea, Asterinidae). Proc Linn Soc NSW 96:39–51Google Scholar
  17. Dartnall AJ, Byrne M, Collins J, Hart MW (2003) A new viviparous species of asterinid (Echinodermata, Asteroidea, Asterinidae) and a new genus to accommodate the species of pan-tropical exiguoid sea stars. Zootaxa 359:1–14Google Scholar
  18. Emson RH, Crump RG (1979) Description of a new species of Asterina (Asteroidea) with an account of its ecology. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 59:77–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fell HB (1962) West-wind drift dispersal of echinoderms in the southern hemisphere. Nature 193:759–761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ghiselin MT (1987) Evolutionary aspects of marine invertebrate reproduction. In: Giese AC, Pearse JS, Pearse VB (eds) Reproduction of marine invertebrates volume IX general aspects: seeking unity in diversity. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Palo Alto, pp 609–665Google Scholar
  21. Grosberg RK, Cunningham CW (2001) Genetic structure in the sea. From populations to communities. In: Berness MD, Gaines SD, Hay ME (eds) Marine community ecology. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, pp 1–84Google Scholar
  22. Hart MW, Keever CC, Dartnall AJ, Byrne M (2006) Morphological and genetic variation indicate cryptic species within Lamarck’s little sea star, Parvulastra (=Patiriella) exigua. Biol Bull 210:158–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hedgecock D (1986) Is gene flow from pelagic larval dispersal important in the adaptation and evolution of marine invertebrates? Bull Mar Sci 39:550–564Google Scholar
  24. Heyward AJ, Babcock RC (1986) Self- and cross-fertilization in scleractinian corals. Mar Biol 90:191–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hunt A (1993) Effects of contrasting patterns of larval dispersal on the genetic connectedness of local populations of two intertidal starfish Patiriella calcar and Patiriella exigua. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 92:179–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hunter E, Hughes RN (1993) Self-fertilization in Celleporella hyalina. Mar Biol 115:495–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jackson AC, Murphy RJ, Underwood AJ (2009) Patiriella exigua: grazing by a starfish in an overgrazed intertidal system. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 376:153–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jarne P, Auld JR (2006) Animals mix it up too: the distribution of self-fertilization among hermaphroditic animals. Evolution 60:1816–1824Google Scholar
  29. Jarne P, Charlesworth D (1993) The evolution of the selfing rate in functionally hermaphroditic plants and animals. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 24:441–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Johannesson K (1988) The paradox of Rockall: why is a brooding gastropod (Littorina saxatilis) more widespread than one having a planktonic larval dispersal stage (L. littorea)? Mar Biol 99:507–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Keesing JK, Graham F, Irvine TR, Crossing R (2011) Synchronous aggregated pseudo-copulation of the sea star Archaster angulatus Müller and Troschel, 1842 (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) and its reproductive cycle in south-western Australia. Mar Biol 158:1163–1173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Komatsu M, Kano YT, Yoshizawa H, Akabane S, Oguro C (1979) Reproduction and development of the hermaphroditic sea-star, Asterina minor Hayashi. Biol Bull 157:258–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lawson-Kerr C, Anderson DT (1978) Reproduction, spawning and development of the starfish Patiriella exigua (Lamarck) (Asteroidea, Asterinidae) and some comparisons with P. calcar (Lamarck). Aust J Mar Freshwat Res 29:45–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Levitan DR (1991) Influence of body size and population density on fertilization success and reproductive output in a free-spawning invertebrate. Biol Bull 181:261–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mori M, Hara M, Tachibana K, Kishimoto T (2006) p90 (Rsk) is required for G1 phase arrest in unfertilized starfish eggs. Development 133:1823–1830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Newman HH (1921) On the development of the spontaneously parthenogenetic eggs of Asterina (Patiria) miniata. Biol Bull 40:105–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ó Foighil D (1989) Planktonic larval development is associated with a restricted geographic range in Lasaea, a genus of brooding, hermaphroditic bivalves. Mar Biol 103:349–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ó Foighil D, Smith MJ (1995) Evolution of asexuality in the cosmopolitan marine clam Lasaea. Evolution 49:140–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prestedge GK (1998) The distribution and biology of Patiriella vivipara (Echinodermata: Asteroidea: Asterinidae): a seastar endemic to southeast Tasmania. Rec Aust Mus 50:161–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roy MS, Sponer R (2002) Evidence of a human-mediated invasion of the tropical western Atlantic by the ‘world’s most common brittlestar’. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:1017–1023CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Run JQ, Chen C-P, Chang K-H, Chia F-S (1988) Mating behaviour and reproductive cycle of Archaster typicus (Echinodermata: Asteroidea). Mar Biol 99:247–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sherman CDH, Hunt A, Ayre AJ (2008) Is life history a barrier to dispersal? Contrasting patterns of genetic differentiation along an oceanographically complex coast. Biol J Linn Soc 95:106–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sponer R, Roy MS (2002) Phylogeographic analysis of the brooding brittle star Amphipholis squamata (Echinodermata) along the coast of New Zealand reveals high cryptic genetic variation and cryptic dispersal potential. Evolution 56:1954–1967Google Scholar
  44. Stoddart JA, Babcock RC, Heyward AJ (1988) Self-fertilization and maternal enzymes in the planulae of the coral Goniastrea favulus. Mar Biol 99:489–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Strathmann RR (1985) Feeding and non-feeding larval development and life history in marine invertebrates. Ann Rev Ecol Sys 16:339–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sunday J, Raeburn L, Stewart H, Hart MW (2009) Allelic inheritance in naturally occurring parthenogenetic offspring of the gonochoric sea star Patiria miniata. Invert Biol 128:276–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thiel M, Haye PA (2006) The ecology of rafting in the marine environment: biogeographical and evolutionary consequences. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 44:323–429Google Scholar
  48. Tomlinson J (1966) The advantages of hermaphroditism and parthenogenesis. J Theoret Biol 11:54–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Waters JM (2008) Driven by west wind drift? A synthesis of southern temperate marine biogeography, with new directions for dispersalism. J Biogeogr 35:417–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Waters JM, Roy MS (2004) Out of Africa: the slow train to Australasia. Syst Biol 53:18–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yamagata A (1982) Studies on reproduction in the hermaphroditic sea star, Asterina minor: the functional male gonads, “ovotestes”. Biol Bull 162:449–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yund PO, McCartney MA (1994) Male reproductive success in sessile invertebrates: competition for fertilizations. Ecology 75:2151–2167CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio S. Barbosa
    • 1
  • O. Selma Klanten
    • 1
  • Hugh Jones
    • 1
  • Maria Byrne
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Medical ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Schools of Medical and Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations