Photosynthetic carbon from algal symbionts peaks during the latter stages of embryonic development in the salamander Ambystoma maculatum

Erin R Graham, Zaid M McKie-Krisberg, Robert W Sanders
BMC Research Notes 2014, 7: 764

BACKGROUND: It was recently discovered that symbiotic algae in the eggs of the salamander Ambystoma maculatum translocate fixed carbon from photosynthesis to developing embryos. Fixed carbon translocation was shown in embryos at one time point during development, however, it was unknown if fixed carbon translocation occurs throughout all developmental stages.

FINDINGS: In this study, fixed carbon translocation was measured in salamander eggs at six time points over the latter half of development. Fixed carbon translocation did not occur until the middle tailbud portion of development (stages 26-30), and translocation was measured in 20% or less of eggs sampled. Peak carbon translocation occurred during the late tailbud phase of development (stages 31-35), where as much as 87% of eggs sampled showed translocation, and average percent translocation was 6.5%. During the final stages of development, fixed carbon translocation declined, and translocation was not detected in embryos five days prior to hatching.

CONCLUSIONS: The onset of fixed carbon translocation from Oophila to A. maculatum embryos during the second half of embryonic development is likely due to the corresponding settlement and concentration of Oophila in the inner egg envelope. In addition, carbon translocation ceases in late stage embryos as the inner egg envelope thins and ruptures in preparation for hatching.

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