Effects of GABA and epinephrine on the settlement and metamorphosis of the larvae of four species of bivalve molluscs.
Competent larvae of different marine bivalve species were treated with GABA and epinephrine at different concentrations and times of exposure to test the ability of the drugs to induce settlement and metamorphosis. GABA induced both settlement and metamorphosis in the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis, the clams Venerupis pullastra and Ruditapes philippinarum and the oyster Ostrea edulis. Maximum induction of settlement (>39%) was achieved after exposure of V. pullastra larvae to 10-4 M GABA; this concentration of GABA also induced the highest percentages of metamorphosis in the four species studied. Epinephrine was identified as an active inducer of settlement and metamorphosis in bivalve molluscs. Exposure to 10-5 M epinephrine induced significant levels of settlement in Mytilus, Venerupis and Ostrea. In contrast, epinephrine failed to induce settlement behaviour in Ruditapes. Maximum induction of metamorphosis was produced by 10-5 M epinephrine in mussels, clams and oysters; Ruditapes showed the highest percentage of metamorphosis (>78%). This is the first report in which the involvement of GABA in the settlement and metamorphosis of bivalve molluscan larvae is demonstrated. It was also recognised that epinephrine plays a role not only in inducing metamorphosis but also in initiating settlement.