A metabolic model for the determination of shell composition in the bivalve mollusc, Mytilus edulis



Rosenberg. G. D. & Hughes, W. W. 1991 01 15: A metabolic model for the determination of shell composition in the bivalve mollusc, Mytilus edulis. Lethaia, Vol. 24. pp. 83–96. Oslo. ISSN 0024–1164.

This research describes compositional variations within the shell of the extant mussel Mytilur edulis and proposes that they are produced by metabolic gradients within the shell-secreting mantle. Because we have previously proposed that the same metabolic gradients are responsible for variations in shell form (curvature), we establish here a model for molluscan shell growth integrating. for the first time. shell form and composition with mantle metabolism. The electron microprobe was used to measure the distribution of Mg. S, and Ca in the outer calcitic shell layer of sectioned. polished, and either A1- or C-coated shell. Mg/Ca and S/Ca ratios in the outer shell are respectively 1.25 and 1.40 times higher along slow-growing, commissure-umbo axes of high shell curvature and high metabolic activity than along rapidly growing axes of low curvature and low metabolic activity. The ratios within the inner surface of the calcitic shell layer decline most rapidly along commissure-umbo axes where mantle metabolic activity also declines rapidly. We reject the null hypothesis, generally at high levels of significance (1-tests. F-tests. regression analyses, and discriminant analysis. with p 4 0.01) that there is no difference in either Mg or S concentration in sections of the calcitic shell layer that differ in shell curvature and mantle metabolic activity. We conclude that calcium (mineral)-rich portions of shells are energctically less costly to produce than matrix or minor element-rich portions. in agreement with the proposal that natural selection favors mineral-rich shells because they are more efficient to produce than matrix-rich shells. Among-specimen differences are also highly significant (mixed model ANOVA). This confirms our assertion that paleontologists need to describe variations in skeletal composition among populations and throughout ontogeny as systematically as classical taxonomists describe morphology. if ever the environmental and the genetic influences on skeletal composition are to be distinguished. Bivalves. biomineralization, shell composition. magnesium, sulfur, calcium, metabolism, growth. Mytillus edulis