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Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2011;3:453-70.

Biofilms and marine invertebrate larvae: what bacteria produce that larvae use to choose settlement sites.

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Kewalo Marine Laboratory and Department of Zoology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, USA.


Communities of microorganisms form thin coats across solid surfaces in the sea. Larvae of many marine invertebrates use biofilm components as cues to appropriate settlement sites. Research on the tube-dwelling polychaete worm Hydroides elegans, a globally common member of biofouling communities, is described to exemplify approaches to understanding biofilm bacteria as a source of settlement cues and larvae as bearers of receptors for bacterial cues. The association of species of the bacterial genus Pseudoalteromonas with larval settlement in many phyla is described, and the question of whether cues are soluble or surface-bound is reviewed, concluding that most evidence points to surface-bound cues. Seemingly contradictory data for stimulation of barnacle settlement are discussed; possibly both explanations are true. Paleontological evidence reveals a relationship between metazoans and biofilms very early in metazoan evolution, and thus the receptors for bacterial cues of invertebrate larvae are very old and possibly unique. Finally, despite more than 60 years of intense investigation, we still know very little about either the bacterial ligands that stimulate larval settlement or the cellular basis of their detection by larvae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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