Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Research Article

Early development and larval survival of Psammechinus miliaris under deep-sea temperature and pressure conditions

R. Aquino-Souzaa1a2 c1, S.J. Hawkinsa1a3 and P.A. Tylera2

a1 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, UK

a2 National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK

a3 College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK


The aim of this study was to analyse the tolerance of the planktonic stages of Psammechinus miliaris to hydrostatic pressure and temperature. Embryos of Psammechinus miliaris were subjected to different combinations of pressure and temperature for 3, 6 and 12 h. The percentage of embryos at each stage and the percentage of embryos developing abnormally were measured. Larvae at the gastrula and prism stages were subjected to pressure and temperature combinations for 24 h and the larval survival was calculated measuring the percentage of swimming larvae. Both embryos and larvae could survive at greater pressures than the known adult depth limits. Larvae showed a much greater potential than embryos for surviving deeper, with approximately 100% of both gastrulae and prisms surviving up to 200 atm at 5°C. These results are similar to other shallow-water species of Echinoida. Thus larval tolerance of high pressure and low temperature may have been important for the success of this group in colonizing the deep-sea.

(Received July 06 2007)

(Accepted November 29 2007)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Rosana Aquino-Souza Universidade Federal do Ceará—Labomar Avenida Aboliça˜o, 3207 Fortaleza—CE—Brasil 60165-081 email: