Embryonic development and intracapsular feeding in Hexaplex trunculus (Gastropoda: Muricidae)



Spawning, phases of embryonic development, intracapsular feeding mechanism and development mode of banded murex Hexaplex trunculus (Linnaeus, 1758) were examined using specimens from the Aegean Sea. In addition, the numbers and characteristics of non-viable nurse eggs during different phases were examined in relation to the development phases of viable embryos. Females spawned between 59 and 162 egg capsules containing 306.76 ± 50.74 eggs. Trochophore larvae first appeared on the 15th day after spawning. Nurse egg consumption began on the 17th day after spawning when the embryos reached the early veliger stage. In the beginning, veligers consumed the nurse eggs by mechanically disintegrating them with velar cilia movement. From the 18th day after spawning, embryos began to consume whole nurse eggs, although mechanical disintegration continued until hatching. Viable embryos consumed the most developed nurse eggs first. The average number of nurse eggs consumed per embryo was 24.67 by the end of the intracapsular period. The average number of hatchlings was 11.95 ± 3.81 per capsule with 1321.48 ± 133.1 μm shell length. According to our observations H. trunculus shows dispersal polymorphism, with most of the hatchlings completing metamorphosis after a short planktonic non-feeding period (up to 2 days), while others metamorphose prior to hatching. Planktonic hatchlings had both foot and well developed four-lobed velum and minimum 1 3/4 whorls. Both hatchling types could be seen in the capsule mass from the same female.