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Embryonic Development of the American Lobster (Homarus americanus): Quantitative Staging and Characterization of an Embryonic Molt Cycle

S. M. Helluy and B. S. Beltz
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 180, No. 3 (Jun., 1991), pp. 355-371
DOI: 10.2307/1542337
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1542337
Page Count: 17
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Embryonic Development of the American Lobster (Homarus americanus): Quantitative Staging and Characterization of an Embryonic Molt Cycle
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Abstract

The growth of a single brood of lobsters (Homarus americanus Milne-Edwards 1837) maintained at constant temperature is studied from the naupliar stage to hatching, and the sequence of appearance of morphological, anatomical, and behavioral characteristics observed. A percent-staging system based upon Perkins' eye index (1972) is presented, and ten equally spaced embryonic stages are illustrated and characterized at different levels of resolution: whole eggs, dissected embryos, antennulae and telsons. The tegumentary and setal changes in the telson show that a complete molt cycle takes place in the egg starting at about 12% embryonic development (E12%) with the molt of the nauplius into the metanauplius and ending just after hatching when the metanauplius molts into a first stage larva (L1, first zoea). At E30%, the cuticle begins to separate from the setae in the telson; this signals the start of Drach's (1939) stage D0 of the metanaupliar embryonic molt cycle. At that time, the first sign of organogenesis of the L1, the formation of the endopod of the antennulae, becomes visible; presumed sensory neurons and their axons are observed at the tip of the exopod of the antennulae where a giant sensillum is differentiating. During D0 the setae of the first larval stage are forming proximally and medially in the bilobed telson under the metanaupliar cuticle. At E90%, these setae are retracting, and the embryo has entered stage D1. After hatching (E100%), the telson of the free metanauplius (prelarva) shows the characteristics of stage D2-3 and ecdysis soon follows. The arrested development observed at constant temperature in the experimental brood occurred at stage D0 of the metanaupliar molt cycle, whereas development was resumed as the embryos entered stage D1. These changes in developmental pace from D0 to D1 in the embryonic molt cycle are parallel to those occurring in older lobsters (Aiken, 1973). The quantitative staging of lobster development from extrusion to hatching, and the description of the embryonic molt cycle will facilitate future investigations on particular aspects of the embryogenesis of Homarus such as neural differentiation.

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