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Live-bearing anemone undergoes major shifts in nutrition as young develop

Brooding anemone uses multiple feeding strategies to nourish young

Date:
April 25, 2016
Source:
PLOS
Summary:
The offspring of a brooding sea anemone transition from using egg yolks to prenatal, then post-natal, parental feeding during their development, according to a new study.
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(A) Brooded juvenile; this one was scored as positive for intra-brood feeding based on presence of food (f) in the gastrovascular cavity. (B) Small juveniles (j) moving freely in the tentacles of a brooding adult. (C) Close-up of a small juvenile in B. (D) Size variation of offspring released in a mucus bundle, including tiny propagules and metamorphosing juveniles (j), with primary tentacles (t). (E) Close-up of a small metamorphosing juvenile in D, showing oral pore (o) and tentacle buds (tb). Scale bar represents 2 mm in A, 4 mm in B, 1 mm in C and D, and 0.5 mm in E.
Credit: Mercier A et al. PLOS ONE

The offspring of a brooding sea anemone transition from using egg yolks to pre-natal, then post-natal, parental feeding during their development, according to a study published April 22, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Annie Mercier from Memorial University, Canada, and colleagues.

Brooding sea anemones incubate eggs within their central body cavity, later releasing fully formed juveniles, but little is known about the feeding mechanisms used during these stages. The authors of the present study characterized the brooding process of Aulactinia stella, a live-bearing sea anemone found in Atlantic Canada, and compared the fatty acid make-up of adults and juveniles to detect shifts in nutritional resources during development.

They found that parent anemones raised multiple small clutches in their body cavities for a prolonged period, during which the developing clutches underwent remarkable dietary shifts. Initially, all nutrition obtained by the offspring came from yolk contained in the eggs, but juveniles later transitioned to passive nourishment from the parent instead (pre-natal feeding). Once hatched or released juveniles developed functional feeding organs, they began to nurse (post-natal feeding) and ultimately switched to external food sources, no longer dependent on the adult for nutrition.

In addition, the authors found that the size variation within the clutch may be indications of parent-offspring conflicts or sibling rivalry.

The authors hope that these findings will be useful in exploring the evolution of young-feeding mechanisms, both in cnidarians and in other animals.


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Journal Reference:

  1. Annie Mercier, Zhao Sun, Christopher C. Parrish, Jean-François Hamel. Remarkable Shifts in Offspring Provisioning during Gestation in a Live-Bearing Cnidarian. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (4): e0154051 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154051

Cite This Page:

PLOS. "Live-bearing anemone undergoes major shifts in nutrition as young develop: Brooding anemone uses multiple feeding strategies to nourish young." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425112843.htm>.
PLOS. (2016, April 25). Live-bearing anemone undergoes major shifts in nutrition as young develop: Brooding anemone uses multiple feeding strategies to nourish young. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425112843.htm
PLOS. "Live-bearing anemone undergoes major shifts in nutrition as young develop: Brooding anemone uses multiple feeding strategies to nourish young." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425112843.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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