Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biomechanics of how marine snail larvae swim

Date:
December 19, 2013
Source:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Summary:
Equipped with high-speed, high-resolution video, scientists have discovered important new information on how marine snail larvae swim, a key behavior that determines individual dispersal and ultimately, survival.

Microscopy image of Atlantic slipper limpet veliger larvae.
Credit: Microscopy image by Karen Chan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Equipped with high-speed, high-resolution video, scientists have discovered important new information on how marine snail larvae swim, a key behavior that determines individual dispersal and ultimately, survival.

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Stony Brook University grew Atlantic slipper limpet larvae, which are slightly larger than a grain of sand, and recorded microscopic video of them swimming. In previous studies, it has been commonly thought that larvae swim faster when they beat their hair-like cilia faster. However, this new microscopic video and research shows that this is not the case.

"I was actually quite surprised when I saw there was no relationship between cilia beat frequency and how fast they swim," says Karen Chan, a WHOI postdoctoral scholar and the lead author on the study, which was published today in PLOS ONE.

The larvae actually control how fast they swim by subtly shifting the position of their velar lobes -- flat, disc-shaped wings fringed with cilia. The ability to make small movements with their velar lobes, akin to how a bird adjusts the angle of its wings while soaring, exhibits a more complex neuromuscular control than previously thought.

The Atlantic slipper limpet (Crepidula fornicata) is a common marine snail native to the northeastern U.S. It has become an invasive nuisance elsewhere in the world competing with endemic species, particularly in Europe. Co-author Dianna Padilla from Stony Brook University's Department of Ecology and Evolution collected the abundant study species from the North Shore of Long Island, NY, for this research project.

"Collaborations between organismal biologists such as myself and oceanographers, who develop and use such clever technology, is helping us find answers to important questions that would otherwise be impossible," Padilla says. She grew the larvae in her lab, which were sent to WHOI for video analysis.

Houshuo Jiang, an associate scientist at WHOI and collaborator on this project, says their ultimate goal is to understand the limpet's role in shaping the marine ecosystem and environment and climate in general.

With support from the National Science Foundation Biological Oceanography program, Jiang built a customized, vertically oriented optical system that can magnify and record high-speed, high-resolution video of microorganisms freely swimming in a vessel of seawater at 2,000 frames per second.

"Much more can be observed in great detail using this setup than observing under a microscope," Jiang says.

Traditionally, scientists have recorded how fast larvae beat their cilia by placing a piece of transparency on a computer screen and tracing and counting the cilia by hand.

"We developed a method to do the same thing, but digitally," Chan says.

In the high-resolution video, the cilia alter from bright to dark as they beat up and down. Chan collected the bright to dark ratio and calculated for variation in order to time how fast and frequently a larva beat its cilia.

"This is a way to apply a new technique to address this old problem," she says.

She also measured the length of each larva's shell, the area of the velar lobes, and the distance between the center of the lobe and the center of the shell in order to calculate velar lobe orientation. She recorded and observed the swimming larvae from when they were two days old to 19 days old.

She found that within a single day, the larvae could vary their speed from swimming one body length per second to four body lengths per second.

"What this means is they have a lot of control over how fast they swim," Chan says. And how they swim can determine where they may go.

"These results show the flexibility that these little animals have, which likely makes them so successful," Padilla says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kit Yu Karen Chan, Houshuo Jiang, Dianna K. Padilla. Swimming Speed of Larval Snail Does Not Correlate with Size and Ciliary Beat Frequency. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (12): e82764 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082764

Cite This Page:

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "Biomechanics of how marine snail larvae swim." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131219093612.htm>.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (2013, December 19). Biomechanics of how marine snail larvae swim. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131219093612.htm
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "Biomechanics of how marine snail larvae swim." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131219093612.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) The Buenos Aires Zoo debuted a trio of rare white Bengal tiger cubs on Wednesday. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins