Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 359–367 | Cite as

Morphological process of vertical transmission of photosymbionts in the colonial ascidian Trididemnum miniatum Kott, 1977

  • Euichi HiroseEmail author
  • Mamiko Hirose
Research Article


In obligate symbioses between didemnid ascidians and prokaryotic algae (cyanobacteria), the larvae of the host ascidian usually possess Prochloron cells that are acquired from their mother colony. The process of vertical transmission of the photosymbionts has been histologically described in several species harboring Prochloron in the common cloacal cavity, where Prochloron cells are attached to the hairy surface of the tunic of the larvae during or just before larval spawning. Since the process has never been described in species harboring the photosymbionts in the tunic of the colony, here we describe the histological and ultrastructural process of vertical transmission in a photosymbiotic didemnid, Trididemnum miniatum. No photosymbionts were associated with gametes of the ascidian. Prochloron cells appeared in the epithelial pouch enclosing the embryo and were then incorporated in the tunic of embryos in late embryonic stages. Although Prochloron cells in the tunic of the colony were rarely associated with the host cells, some amoeboid-shaped tunic cells containing Prochloron cells were occasionally found around the epithelial pouch. Therefore, the host cell is thought to be a vehicle transporting the photosymbionts in the tunic of the colony to the tunic of the embryos. The photosymbiont cells were directly embedded in the tunic of the larval trunk. They were not contained in the host cells, as are those in the tunic of the colony. These observations revealed that the mechanism of vertical transmission in T. miniatum is very different from that in didemnids harboring Prochloron in the common cloacal cavity of the colonies, such as Trididemnum cyclops. The mechanisms of symbiont transmission are diverse even within the genus Trididemnum.


Vertical Transmission Glycidyl Ether Adhesive Organ Amoeboid Cell Swimming Larva 
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This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (#16570081) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the 21st Century COE Program of the University of the Ryukyus. Larval sampling and TEM observation were carried out at the Sesoko Station (Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus) and at the Shimoda Marine Research Center (University of Tsukuba: contribution # 721), respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan

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