Metamorphic competence in aplysia californica cooper

L. Nadeau, J. A. Paige, V. Starczak, T. Capo, J. Lafler, J. P. Bidwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Metamorphic competence in the opisthobranch gastropod Aplysia californica Cooper coincides with the appearance of four to six irregularly shaped red spots on the right side of the outer periviceral membrane beneath the larval shell along with a red line overlying the mantle margin. If this pigmented pattern is not manifest, the animal will not respond to the metamorphic substratum, a number of red seaweeds including Agardhiella subulata (C. Agardh) Kraft et Wayne and Laurencia paciflca Kylin. Preliminary observations indicate that an exogenous factor(s), present in summer seawater in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, but absent during the winter months, is required for the onset of metamorphic competence. This factor is rendered inactive by heating fresh summer seawater for short periods or is removed via ultrafiltration using 30-100-K membranes. Exudants and crude extracts from red seaweeds (Agardhiella sp. and Gracillaria sp.) trigger the competence transition and metamorphosis. We have yet to determine whether the competence and metamorphic inducers are the same compound. Nevertheless, this factor does not appear to be required for normal larval growth and development preceding the competence transition. The possible ecological significance of our laboratory observations is briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-193
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 24 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Aplysia californica
  • Competence factor
  • Metamorphosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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