Barnacle larval destination: piloting possibilities by bacteria and lectin interaction
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Modulation of metamorphosis in barnacles in response to cues of biological origin is established. The bacteria associated with the barnacles also have a role in such modulations. We isolated the bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus pumilus and Citrobacter freundii from the shell surface of Balanus amphitrite and assayed against its cypris larvae. The former species was promotory while the latter two inhibited cyprid metamorphosis. P. aeruginosa however, when tagged with lectins specific to glucose and its derivatives, mannose and fructofuranose negated the promotory effect. Whereas, tagging of galactose derivatives translated the inhibitory effect of B. pumilus and C. freundii into a promotory one showing that lectins can alter the signals in either direction. Galactose-binding lectins have been identified in the haemolymph of barnacles, which could find their way through the excretory system to the surface. The presence of such lectins could probably provide this organism with an ability to alter the signals or cues. Microscale patchiness of bacteria is also evident on surfaces in the sea. The availability of conflicting cues in patches may help pilot the larvae to their settlement destination. Understanding these controlling mechanisms and interfering with the pathways that are involved in lectin synthesis would be a step forward in antifouling technology.
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