From competent larva to exotrophic juvenile: a morphofunctional study of the perimetamorphic period of Paracentrotus lividus (Echinodermata, Echinoida)
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The perimetamorphic period in Paracentrotus lividus lasts for 8–12 days. It starts from the acquisition of larval competence, includes the change in form (metamorphosis) and the endotrophic postlarval life, and stops with the appearance of the exotrophic juvenile. All major postlarval appendages already occur in competent larvae being either grouped into the echinoid rudiment (terminal plates, early spines and primary podia) or scattered within the larval integument (genital plates and sessile pedicellariae). Competent larvae show particular behaviour which brings them close to the substratum. The latter is tested by primary podia protruding through the vestibular aperture of the larva. Primary podia are sensory–secretory appendages that are deprived ampullae. They are able to adhere to the substratum in order to allow evagination of the echinoid rudiment (i.e. metamorphosis) and substatum adhesion of the postlarva. Particular spines are borne by the postlarva; these are multifid non-mobile appendages forming a kind of protective armour. Like those of the larva, all characteristic structures of the postlarva (primary podia, multified spines and sessile pedicellariae) are transitory and regress either at the end of postlarval life (primary podia) or during early juvenile life (multifid spines and sessile pedicellariae). Other appendages that develop during postlarval life (i.e. podia with ampulla, point-tipped spines and sphaeridiae) are similar to those borne by the adults and become functional when the individual enters its juvenile life. Thus, the perimetamorphic period appears to be a fully fledged period in the life-cycle of P. lividus, and presumably in the life-cycle of any other sea-urchin species.
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