Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)
Induced spawning and culture techniques for the invasive ascidian Didemnum vexillum (Kott, 2002)
Fletcher LM, Forrest BM 2011. Induced spawning and culture techniques for the invasive ascidian Didemnum vexillum (Kott, 2002). Aquatic Invasions 6(4): 457-464.
The colonial ascidian Didemnum vexillum has become relatively widespread in New Zealand, since its initial discovery in 2001. Despite the potential economic and ecological impacts of D. vexillum, there are still considerable knowledge gaps surrounding its key biological attributes. The ability to obtain larvae and culture colonies in the laboratory is crucial to research into larval longevity and dispersal potential, and the factors affecting colony survivorship and growth. Here we present methods for spawning and culture of D. vexillum under laboratory conditions. A 'light shocking without cycles' technique was used to stimulate larval release in adult colonies, with > 500 larvae being produced from similar to 100 g of tissue at the peak of the reproductive season.
Following release, the larvae were allowed to metamorphose and the juveniles were cultured under controlled conditions for four weeks. Recruit survival during the four weeks of culture was > 85 % with the majority having formed small colonies of 4 to 6 zooids with a dense cover of white spicules throughout the tunic. The most effective laboratory spawning conditions are described with respect to light and temperature. The ability to obtain D. vexillum larvae on demand will enable increased research into several aspects of this species' reproductive biology and ecology.