Analysis of developmental patterns of Botryllus schlosseri colonies from the eastern Mediterranean coast has been performed on 143 genets under different temperature regimens (15,20,27 °C) for up to 22 weeks. While the average maximal size as the length of the blastogenic cycle (BC) varied in respect to water temperature, ontogeny at all temperatures was characterized by 4 developmental stages: 1. the lag phase (the first 1–3 BCs, 1 bud/BC), 2. the exponential growth phase (5.5–7.8 BCs, up to 3 buds/BC), 3. the plateau phase, (7.4–8.2 BCs, 1 bud/BC), 4. the degenerative or the variable phase. Many (40.6%) colonies were not sexually reproductive, the others were male only (30.1%) or hermaphrodites. Colonies at the peak of reproduction develop 1.2 oocytes/zooid, and up to 57.7% produced >4 clutches. Analysing onset of reproduction with maximal colony size revealed 4 patterns, two for “male only” colonies and two for hermaphrodites that varied at different sea water temperatures. In two patterns, the onset of reproduction precedes colony maximal size, and in the others it starts at the peak size or thereafter. Zooids at the colony's periphery developed almost twice as many buds as did zooids at the center, but produced significantly lower numbers of eggs. Fragmentation was recorded in large colonies and was temperature dependent. Results are compared with the data available on populations from other localities indicating for dramatically different developmental modes characteristic to this cosmopolitan species.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study is part of the work done in the Minerva Center for Marine Invertebrate Immunology and Developmental Biology, and was also supported by a grant from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation. Thanks are due to H. Bernard for drawing the figures.
- Life history
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Developmental Biology