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Biol Bull. 2000 Aug;199(1):50-8.

Factors influencing spawning and pairing in the scale worm Harmothoe imbricata (Annelida: Polychaeta).

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  • 1Institute of Marine Sciences, Eastney, University of Portsmouth, UK.


Endocrine and environmental factors control reproduction of the polynoid scale worm Harmothoe imbricata. We confirmed that the rate of vitellogenesis was greater in winter specimens transferred from ambient regimes of photoperiod and temperature to a light:dark (LD) photoperiod of 16:8 at 10 degrees C and showed that the number of females spawning was significantly greater than for those transferred to LD8:16 at 10 degrees C. The endocrine mediation of this response was investigated using prostomium implantations. Significantly more LD8:16 females implanted with prostomia from LD16:8 conditioned females spawned than LD8:16 females implanted with LD8:16 prostomia. Females without prostomia failed to spawn. LD16:8 exposure may increase levels of a possible "spawning hormone" in the prostomium. Spawning proceeded in these LD16:8 females and allowed spawning to occur in LD8:16 females implanted with LD16:8 prostomia. In LD8:16 prostomia, titers of the spawning hormone reached the threshold in significantly fewer individuals, so that significantly fewer females implanted with LD8:16 prostomia spawned. Using Y-maze choice chambers, pair formation was shown to be under pheromonal control, with males being attracted to mature females but not to females carrying fertilized oocytes or to LD8:16 conditioned females. Production of this attraction pheromone can, therefore, be manipulated through photoperiodic control, suggesting a link between oogenesis, spawning, and pheromone production.

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