Rotifers from diapausing, fertilized eggs: Unique features and emergence

Gilbert, John J., Thomas Schröder

Limnol. Oceanogr., 49(4_part_2), 2004, 1341-1354 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2004.49.4_part_2.1341

ABSTRACT: Sexual reproduction in cyclically parthenogenetic rotifers results in the production of diapausing, fertilized (resting) eggs, which can survive for decades in sediment egg banks. Stem females hatching from these eggs can differ from genetically identical ones produced in subsequent parthenogenetic generations. Differences involve the inhibition of sexual reproduction, which may persist for many parthenogenetic generations; reduced morphology (apterous Polyarthra, shorter-spined Brachionus); and larger stores of lipid. These features of stem females may facilitate colonization by favoring population growth via female parthenogenesis and by decreasing food requirements for survival and reproduction. Fertilized eggs in dried sediments probably hatch soon after being flooded by rising water levels. Eggs in permanently submerged sediments may be in environments that inhibit hatching (e.g., darkness, low water temperature, low dissolved oxygen) and hatch only when brought to the sediment surface or resuspended into the water column by currents or bioturbation. Laboratory experiments show that the hatching of diapausing, fertilized eggs can require light and temperatures suitable for population development or specific changes in temperature consistent with a new growing season. The limited data that exist on their emergence from fertilized eggs in natural systems come from sediment traps, from the occurrence in the water column of apterous Polyarthra or empty egg shells, and from calculations of negative mortality rates of planktonic populations. Fertilized eggs often hatch at the beginning of the growth season but may continue to hatch intermittently thereafter. The extremely high genotypic diversity of some natural rotifer populations indicates extensive hatching of stem females from the sediment egg bank.

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