“Do Holopneustes go with the flow?”

As an organism develops their distinctive use of resources changes over time. This process, known as an Ontogenetic shift, can be extremely risky for the organism to undergo and therefore must be considerably advantageous. The Australian sea urchin, Holopneustes purpurascens undergoes such a shift. Holopneustes purpurascens is unable to thrive on the alga on which it settles; Delisea pulchra and only once a critical size is reached, undergoes a habitat and diet shift to the kelp, Ecklonia radiata.  We aim to study the role temporary gel-adhesion plays in the facilitation of Holopneustes purpurascens‘ shift from one host to the next.

Research Project – David Connolly, Macquarie University