Geneseo Logo            Symbiotic Association Between Sea Star Larvae 
and Bacteria in the North Atlantic
    by Isidro Bosch, Professor of Biology
                in collaboration with Will Jaeckle, Illinois Wesleyan University                     

We are currently studying a symbiotic relationship between sea star larvae and bacteria.  The larvae are abundant and widespread in the North Atlantic and they can be collected in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Florida almost any time of year.  These field-collected larvae harbor large numbers of bacteria beneath the cuticle along the region of the larval gut.   Research is well under way to identify the larvae and study the nature of the association.

Posted Jan, 2012

Bipinnaria CloningSubcuticular bacteria 
Left: Clonal larva showing posterolateral arms in the process of developing into gastrulas
Right: TEM showing large numbers of bacteria that live outside the larval epidermis, beneath the larval cuticle. The bacteria are common only in the region of the larval gut

Links to Additional Information
  • Map showing where larvae have been collected
  • Links to relevant abstracts
  1. Paper describing the symbiosis: Marine Biology
  2. Original description of clonal larvae : Nature
  3. Jaeckle's description of cloning modes: The Biological Bulletin
  4. Knott et al. with provisional identification of larvae: Biol. Bulletin