Strontium is Required in Artificial Seawater for Embryonic Shell Formation in Two Species of Bivalve Molluscs

  • Scott M. Gallager
  • Joseph P. Bidwell
  • Alan M. Kuzirian


Strontium is required in artificial seawater for the formation of the calcareous embryonic shell of the bivalves Mercenaria mercenaria (Linne, 1758) and Bankia gouldi (Bartsch, 1908). Embryos reared in defined media without strontium chloride become swimming larvae that appear normal except that the mineralized portion of the prodissoconch I shell is absent. Calcification is sensitive to small differences in strontium concentrations and a level of 6–8 ppm is required for normal development. Structural defects also result at high concentrations of this element, 3 to 10 times that of natural seawater, or when barium is substituted for strontium. Exposure to strontium is required only between hours 15–30 of the 40–45 hour embryonic period. Shell mineralization is initiated at hour 20 while the organic layer is observed with SEM at hour 18 and appears complete by hour 26. Larval shell growth (prodissoconch II) and statolith formation in M. mercenaria do not require the presence of strontium. These results are compared with those obtained earlier for the gastropod Aplysia californica (Cooper, 1863) and the implications are discussed.


Artificial Seawater Natural Seawater Shell Formation Ventral Margin Hinge Line 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ANDERSON, O.R., 1981. Radiolarian fine structure and silica deposition. In Silicon and Siliceous Structure in Biological Systems (ed. T.L. Simpson and B.E. Volvani ), pp. 347–349. New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. BIDWELL, J.P., PAIGE, J.A. and KUZIRIAN, A.M., 1986. Effects of strontium on the embryonic development of Aplysia californica. Biol. Bull., 170: 75–90.Google Scholar
  3. BLACKWELDER, P.L., WEISS, R.E., and WILBUR, K.M., 1976. Effects of calcium, strontium and magnesium on the coccolithophorid Cricospltaera ( Hymenomonas) carterae, I. Calcification. Mar. Biol., 34: 11–16.Google Scholar
  4. BRULAND, K.W., 1983. Trace elements in sea-water. In Chemical Oceanography (ed. J.P. Riley and G. Skirrow ), pp. 157–220. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. CARRIKER, M. R., 1961. Interrelation of functional morphology, behavior, and autecology in early stages of the bivalve Mercenaria mercenaria. J. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc., 177: 168–242.Google Scholar
  6. CULLINEY, J.L., 1975. Comparative larval development of the shipworms Bankia gouldi and Teredo navalis. Mar. Biol., 29: 245–251.Google Scholar
  7. DODD, J.R, 1967. Magnesium and strontium in calcareous skeletons: a review. J. Paleont., 41:1313–1329. EYSTER, L.S., 1983. Ultrastructure of early embryonic shell formation in the opisthobranch gastropod Aeolidia papillosa. Biol. Bull., 165: 394–408.Google Scholar
  8. EYSI’ER, L.S., 1986. Shell inorganic composition and onset of shell mineralization during bivalve and gastropod embryogenesis. Biol. Bull., 170: 211–231.Google Scholar
  9. EYSTER, L.S. and MORSE, M.P., 1984. Early shell formation during molluscan embryogenesis, with new studies on the surf clam, Spisula solidissima. Amer. Zool., 24: 871–882.Google Scholar
  10. GUILLARD, R, 1975. Culture of phytoplankton for feeding marine invertebrates. In Culture of marine invertebrate animals (ed. W.L. Smith and M.H. Chantey ), pp. 29–60. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. GUNATILAKA, A., 1975. The chemical composition of some carbonate secreting marine organisms from Connemara Island. Proc. Roy. Irish Acad. Ser., B75: 543–556.Google Scholar
  12. GUNATILAKA, A., 1981. Biogeochemistry of strontium. In Handbook of Stable Strontium (ed. S.C. Skoryna ), pp. 19–46. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  13. JABLONSKI D. and LUTZ, R.A., 1983. Larval ecology of marine benthic invertebrates: paleobiological implications. Biol. Rev., 58: 21–89.Google Scholar
  14. KNIPRATH, E., 1981. Ontogeny of the molluscan shell field: a review. Zool. Scripta, 10: 61–79.Google Scholar
  15. LA BARBERA, M., 1974. Calcification of the first larval shell of Tridacna squamosa ( Tridacnidae: Bivalvia). Mar. Biol., 25: 233–238.Google Scholar
  16. LOWENSTAM, H.A., 1964. Ca/Sr ratio of skeletal aragonites from the recent marine biota at Palau and from fossil gastropods. In Isotopic and Cosmic Chemistry (ed. H. Craig, S.L. Miller, and G.J. Wasserburg ), pp. 114–132. Amsterdam: North Hollan Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  17. NATION, J.L., 1983. A new method using hexamethyldisilazane for preparation of soft insect tissues for scanning electron microscopy. Stain Techn., 58: 347–351.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. RAVEN, C.P., 1966. Morphogenesis: The Analysis of Molluscan Development. 366pp. New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  19. SIMKISS, K., 1983. Trace elements as probes of biomineralization. In Biomineralization and Biological Metal Accumulation, Biological and Geological Perspectives,(ed. P. Westbroek and E.W. DeJong), pp. 363–371. Holland: Reidel, Dorcrecht.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. WALLER, T.R., 1981. Functional morphology and development of veliger larvae of the European oyster, Ostrea edulis Linne. Smithsonian. Contr. Zool., 328: 1–70.Google Scholar
  21. WEINER, S., 1984. Organization of organic matrix components in mineralized tissues. Amer. Zool., 24: 945–952.Google Scholar
  22. WEISS, R.E., BLACKWELDER, P.L. and WILBUR, K.M., 1976. Effects of calcium, strontium and magnesium on the coccolithophorid Cricsophaera (Hymenomonas) carterae. II. Cell division. Mar. Biol., 34: 17–22.Google Scholar
  23. WILBUR, K.M. and SALEUDDIN A.S.M., 1983. Shell formation. In The Mollusca. vol. 4. Physiology Part I. (ed. A.S.M. Saleuddin and K.M. Wilbur ), pp. 235–287. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott M. Gallager
    • 1
  • Joseph P. Bidwell
    • 2
  • Alan M. Kuzirian
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Howard Hughes Medical InstituteWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  3. 3.Section on Neural SystemsLaboratory of Biophysics, NINCDS-NIH, Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA

Personalised recommendations