Pharmacological induction of larval settlement and metamorphosis in the blue mussel Mytilus edulis L.

Sergey V. Dobretsov, Pei Yuan Qian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


The blue mussel Mytilus edulis L. is an important aquaculture and fouling species in northern seas. Although the general role of chemical cues for settlement of larvae of the blue mussel has been proposed, few studies have focused on induction of settlement and metamorphosis by pharmacological agents. In this study, the induction of larval settlement of the blue mussel by pharmacological compounds was investigated through a series of laboratory experiments with an aim of identifying artificial cues for laboratory bioassay systems in fouling and antifouling research. Gamma-aminobutiric acid (GABA), dihydroxyphenyl L-alanine (DOPA), isobutyl methylxanthine (IBMX) and acetylcholine chloride (ACH) at 10-7-10-2 M as well as KCl at 10-40 mM K+ in excess of the level in normal seawater were tested for their inductive effect on larval settlement. In filtered seawater (FSW) <9% of the larvae settled after 48 h. Elevated K+ and GABA levels had no effect on larval settlement and metamorphosis. DOPA at 10-5 M and IBMX at 10-6-10-4 M induced 41-83% larval settlement and ACH at 10-7-10-5 M induced < 40% larval settlement. While the highest settlement rates were observed after 48 h exposure to the chemicals, most of the larvae settled within 24 h. Compounds at concentrations of 10-3-10-2 M were either toxic to larvae or retarded the growth of the post-larvae shell. Juveniles resulting from induction by lower concentrations of chemicals had a very high survival rate, completed metamorphosis and grew as well as the juveniles that metamorphosed spontaneously. IBMX at 10-6-10-4 M and L-DOPA at 10-5 M are effective agents for induction of settlement and metamorphosis for future studies using juvenile M. edulis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical cues
  • Growth
  • Larval settlement
  • Metamorphosis
  • Mortality
  • Mytilus edulis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Water Science and Technology


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