Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 4, pp 723–734 | Cite as

Growth and differentiation during delayed metamorphosis of feeding gastropod larvae: signatures of ancestry and innovation

  • Maryna P. Lesoway
  • Louise R. PageEmail author
Research Article


Extent of larval growth among marine invertebrates has potentially profound implications for performance by benthic recruits because body size influences many biological processes. Among gastropods, feeding larvae often attain larger size at metamorphic competence than non-feeding larvae of basal gastropod clades. Delay of metamorphosis can further influence size at recruitment if larvae continue to grow during the delay. Some caenogastopod larvae grow during delayed metamorphosis, but opisthobranch larvae do not. Data on larval growth of neritimorph gastropods are needed to help determine which of these growth patterns for planktotrophic gastropod larvae is more derived. We cultured planktotrophic larvae from all three major gastropod clades with feeding larvae through delays of metamorphosis of 3–10 weeks. Larvae of the caenogastropod Euspira lewisii and the euthyneurans Haminoea vesicula (Opisthobranchia) and Siphonaria denticulata (Pulmonata) conformed to previously described growth patterns for their respective major clades. Furthermore, the caenogastropod continued to lengthen the prototroch (ciliary band for swimming and feeding) and to differentiate prospective post-metamorphic structures (gill filaments and radular teeth) during delayed metamorphosis. Larvae of the neritimorph Nerita atramentosa arrested shell growth during delayed metamorphosis but the radula continued to elongate, a pattern most similar to that of non-feeding larvae of Haliotis, a vetigastropod genus. Character mapping on a phylogenetic hypothesis suggests that large larval size and capacity for continued growth during delayed metamorphosis, as exhibited by some caenogastropods, is a derived innovation among feeding gastropod larvae. This novelty may have facilitated post-metamorphic evolution of predatory feeding using a long proboscis.


Larval Growth Shell Growth Larval Shell Planktotrophic Larva Radular Tooth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful for the hospitality of Dr. Maria Byrne and members of her laboratory in the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology, University of Sydney, where some of this research was done. Our research did not contravene laws of either Canada or Australia. Funding from NSERC of Canada is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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