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J Morphol. 2004 May;260(2):154-64.

Growth and molting in epizoic pedunculate barnacles genus Octolasmis (Crustacea: Thecostraca: Cirripedia: Thoracica).

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Department of Zoomorphology, Zoological Institute, University of Copenhagen, DK 2100, Denmark.


Scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy, and histology were used to study growth in species of the pedunculate barnacle genus Octolasmis (O. angulata, O. cor, O. californiana, O. mülleri). These species are epizoic in the gill chamber of portunid crabs and have highly reduced capitular shell plates, with large areas of general cuticle in between. The external integument grows by means of a system of narrow growth zones, one encircling the peduncle and a Y-shaped system on either side of the capitulum. Growth is by a regular series of molts, but shedding of old cuticle and production of new layers is entirely restricted to the growth zones. Just prior to ecdysis, the new cuticle lies in a highly folded fashion beneath the old cuticle that is about to be shed. At ecdysis, the old cuticle breaks along the margins of the growth zones and the resulting scars remain as a system of "ecdysial lines" along either side of the zone. Once exposed after ecdysis, the new cuticle remains as a part of the permanent external integument. The growth zones divide the externa into five cuticular areas, two on the peduncle and three on the capitulum. The calcareous shell plates (carina, paired scuta, and, when present, paired terga) all lie within the capitular regions and the ecdysial lines pass across, not around, these mineralized areas. The number, relative spacing, and topology of the ecdysial lines form a record of the growth history of the specimen. These and other growth patterns demonstrate that size increase is due to the formation of new cuticle by molting in the growth zones, while expansion of the shell plates by mineralization follows only after production of the new cuticle. Thus, although specialized, growth in Octolasmis still complies with the general crustacean model, complicated only by the mineralization of parts of the capitular cuticle into shell plates. The results are compared with the very scarce information on molting in other barnacles. We argue that at least the circular peduncular growth zone is omnipresent in the Cirripedia Thoracica.

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