The specific features of the reproductive stage of the life cycle have been studied in the rhizocephalan barnacle Polyascus polygenea, a parasite of the coastal crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus. It is shown that a single crab can bear 1 to 8 externae of P. polygenea. The fecundity of the parasite depends on the size of the externae and their number on the host and may reach as much as 50 000 eggs for one externa. In Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan, this species repeatedly reproduces during the entire spring–autumn period; externae with developing embryos in the mantle cavity occur from May to September, and planktonic larvae occur from June to October. One externa produces during the season of reproduction no less than three generations of larvae. Thus, the reproductive strategy in P. polygenea comprises a three-stage cascade of reproduction: asexual reproduction via budding of the interna; the development of several generations of one or several externae; and several reproduction cycles of each externa. This allows the parasite to produce a very great number of larvae and ensures the parasitization of a significant proportion of the host crab population. The structure of the ovaries and oogenesis in rhizocephalans and free-living cirripede barnacles have many common features, which provides evidence for integration of these two groups within one monophyletic taxon.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 19, 2004
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