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Over 50 species of brittle stars (Echinodennata: Ophiuroidea) are known to brood their developmental stages (embryos and larvae) through metamorphosis in internal structures called bursae (Hyman, 1955). In some of these brooding ophiuroids, the source of the organic material necessary to support the growth and development of the embryos is somewhat obscure because the amount of material required is not maternally supplied in the egg. A species that follows this example is Amphipholis squamata (Delle Chiaje). Previous studies (Fontaine and Chia 1968) have shown that the larvae of A. squamata are able to acquire the organic material needed to sustain growth from simple carbohydrates and amino acids dissolved in the surrounding environment. However, the amount of nutrition provided by these molecules is probably not enough to sustain the growth that the larvae exhibit before they are released as juveniles. This study examined the uptake of high molecular weight organic molecules (polysaccharides and polypeptides), sources that are more likely to provide sufficient energy for growth. The data collected suggest that the juveniles do not readily absorb polysaccharides but do actively take up polypeptides which could then be broken down and used for growth.



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