Marine Biology

, 166:10 | Cite as

Female–embryo relationships in Ostrea chilensis: brooding, embryo recognition, and larval hatching

  • O. R. ChaparroEmail author
  • D. A. Mardones-Toledo
  • M. W. Gray
  • V. M. Cubillos
  • J. M. Navarro
  • L. P. Salas-Yanquin
Original paper


Flat oysters brood their embryos and larvae in the female pallial cavity, and the previous work has examined their relationship to the gill/mouth complex. However, the details of this relationship are unclear. By transplanting embryos and using endoscopy, the capacity for embryonic recognition in brooding oysters, Ostrea chilensis, and the ability to clear the pallial cavity of dead embryos were studied. The oysters were collected in 2016 and 2017 in the Quempillén estuary in southern Chile (41°52′S, 73°46′W). Non-brooding and smaller oysters (males) did not retain transplanted embryos in their pallial cavities. Brooding oysters retained transplanted foreign embryos and larvae, which developed along with a female’s own larvae. Dead larvae were detected by brooding oysters and ejected from the pallial cavity in pseudofeces. This was effective but not efficient; females frequently rejected some of their own veligers together with the dead larvae. Brooding females likely recognized dead larvae by their inactivity. At hatching, brooded larvae were released in several short pulses by maternal pumping, which ejected larvae at mean speeds of 178.6 ± 56.6 mm s−1, considerably greater than larval swimming speeds (0.32 ± 0.24 mm s−1) or female counter-currents (0.67 ± 0.42 mm s−1). It remains unknown whether the presence of embryos and larvae in the pallial cavity over the extended brooding period of ~ 8 weeks in O. chilensis contributes to the hatching process in some way.



The authors would like to thank the Fondo Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica-Chile, Grant 1180643, for support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human/animal rights statement

All applicable national, state, and university guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. Only invertebrates were used in this study.

Supplementary material

227_2018_3457_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (502 kb)
Retention of live larvae transplanted to male and to brooding and non-brooding females. Percentage of foreign and own embryos in the female pallial cavity (N = 10) after 10-day post- transplant. Data point = 1 oyster (PDF 502 kb)
227_2018_3457_MOESM2_ESM.wmv (5 mb)
Endoscopic images during the formation of pseudofeces in a brooding Ostrea chilensis female at the moment of receiving dead embryos (marked with red) in the interior of her pallial cavity. Image of pseudofeces expelled with embryos incorporated inside the mucous mass (WMV 5069 kb)
227_2018_3457_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (500 kb)
Speed of larval swimming (VSV), female counter-current (FCV) and larval release (LRV). Larval swimming and female counter-currents were calculated for advanced larvae (close to the hatching) inside in the pallial cavity from endoscopic images (PDF 500 kb) (1.1 mb)
Video recording of adult oysters during the process of larval expulsion from the maternal brooding cavity (MOV 1137 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. R. Chaparro
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. A. Mardones-Toledo
    • 1
  • M. W. Gray
    • 2
  • V. M. Cubillos
    • 1
  • J. M. Navarro
    • 1
    • 3
  • L. P. Salas-Yanquin
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y LimnológicasUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  2. 2.University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point LaboratoryCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Centro Fondap de Investigación de Ecosistemas Marinos de Altas Latitudes (IDEAL)Universidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile

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