Purification and characterization of a natural agglutinin from the serum of the hermit crab Diogenes affinis.
A natural agglutinin from the serum of the hermit crab Diogenes affinis was purified to homogeneity by a single-step affinity chromatography using N-acetylglucosamine-coupled Sepharose 6B. The purified serum agglutinin (PSA) showed a strong affinity for rat RBC, and its hemagglutinating (HA) activity was specifically dependent on Ca2+ and reversibly sensitive to EDTA. PSA in active form has a molecular mass estimate of 185 kDa and is composed of four non-identical subunits (51, 49, 42 and 39 kDa) cross-linked by interchain disulfide bonds. The homogeneity of PSA was corroborated by immunodiffusion and immunoelectrophoretic analyses using rabbit antiserum raised against the agglutinin. The antibodies in this antiserum appear to be specific for RBC-binding sites of the agglutinin molecules as revealed by the ability of the antiserum to neutralize HA activities of both whole serum and PSA of D. affinis. In HA-inhibition assays performed with several carbohydrates and glycoproteins, PSA showed a distinct and unique specificity for acetyl group in carbohydrates independently of the presence of this group on C-2 or C-5 and its stereochemical arrangement in the axial or equatorial orientation. Besides, this agglutinin appears to recognize the terminal N- and O- acetyl groups in the oligosaccharide chain of glycoconjugates. The HA activity of D. affinis agglutinin was also susceptible to inhibition by lipopolysaccharides from diverse gram-negative bacteria, which might indicate a significant in vivo role of this humoral agglutinin in the host immune response against bacterial infections. (+info)
Dramatic mitochondrial gene rearrangements in the hermit crab Pagurus longicarpus (Crustacea, anomura).
The entire mitochondrial gene order of the crustacean Pagurus longicarpus was determined by sequencing all but approximately 300 bp of the mitochondrial genome. We report the first major gene rearrangements found in the clade including Crustacea and Insecta. At least eight mitochondrial gene rearrangements have dramatically altered the gene order of the hermit crab P. longicarpus relative to the putatively ancestral crustacean gene order. These include two rearrangements of protein-coding genes, the first reported for any nonchelicerate arthropod. Codon usage and amino acid sequences do not deviate substantially from those reported for other crustaceans. Investigating the phylogenetic distribution of these eight rearrangements will add additional characters to help resolve decapod phylogeny. (+info)
Cumulative or sequential assessment during hermit crab shell fights: effects of oxygen on decision rules.
Agonistic interactions between animals are often settled by the use of repeated signals which advertise the resource-holding potential of the sender. According to the sequential assessment game this repetition increases the accuracy with which receivers may assess the signal, but under the cumulative assessment model the repeated performances accumulate to give a signal of stamina. These models may be distinguished by the temporal pattern of signalling they predict and by the decision rules used by the contestants. Hermit crabs engage in shell fights over possession of the gastropod shells that they inhabit. During these interactions the two roles of signaller and receiver may be examined separately because they are fixed for the duration of the encounter. Attackers rap their shell against that of the defender in a series of bouts whereas defenders remain tightly withdrawn into their shells for the duration of the contest. At the end of a fight the attacker may evict the defender from its shell or decide to give up without first effecting an eviction; the decision for defenders is either to maintain a grip on its shell or to release the shell and allow itself to be evicted. We manipulated fatigue levels separately for attackers and defenders, by varying the oxygen concentration of the water that they are held in prior to fighting, and examined the effects that this has on the likelihood of each decision and on the temporal pattern of rapping. We show that the vigour of rapping and the likelihood of eviction are reduced when the attacker is subjected to low oxygen but that this treatment has no effect on rates of eviction when applied to defenders. We conclude that defenders compare the vigour of rapping with an absolute threshold rather than with a relative threshold when making their decision. The data are compatible with the cumulative assessment model and with the idea that shell rapping signals the stamina of attackers, but do not fit the predictions of the sequential assessment game. (+info)
Effect of tetramethylenedisulphotetramine on the membrane conductance increase produced by gamma-amino-butyric acid at the crab neuromuscular junction.
The effect of tetramethylenedisulphotetramine (TETS) on the increase in membrane conductance produced by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the hermit crab neuromuscular junction was investigated. TETS produced a dose-dependent antagonism of GABA, which was characterized by a non-parallel shift of the log dose-conductance curve for GABA with a reduced maximal conductance change. (+info)
Decision rules, energy metabolism and vigour of hermit-crab fights.
Aggressive interactions between animals are often settled by the use of repeated signals that reduce the risk of injury from combat but are expected to be costly. The accumulation of lactic acid and the depletion of energy stores may constrain activity rates during and after fights and thus represent significant costs of signalling. We tested this by analysing the concentrations of lactate and glucose in the haemolymph of hermit crabs following agonistic interactions over the ownership of the gastropod shells that they inhabit. Attackers and defenders play distinct roles of sender and receiver that are fixed for the course of the encounter. Attackers perform bouts of 'shell rapping', which vary in vigour between attackers and during the course of the encounter, and are a key predictor of victory. In contrast to the agonistic behaviour of other species, we can quantify the vigour of fighting. We demonstrate, to our knowledge for the first time, an association between the vigour of aggressive activity and a proximate cost of signalling. We show that the lactate concentration in attackers increases with the amount of shell rapping, and that this appears to constrain the vigour of subsequent rapping. Furthermore, attackers, but not defenders, give up when the concentration of lactate is high. Glucose levels in attackers also increase with the amount of rapping they perform, but do not appear to influence their decision to give up. Defenders are more likely to lose when they have particularly low levels of glucose. We conclude that the two roles use different decision rules during these encounters. (+info)
Patterns of activity in the antennular motoneurones of the hermit crab Pagurus alaskensis (Benedict).
1. Using electromyogram recordings from the antennular muscles of intact animals and recordings from the antennular nerves of partially dissected preparations, the patterns of activity in specific antennular motoneurones have been described during antennular flicking and antennular withdrawal. 2. The slow extensor motoneurone A30S is active during flicking in addition to the phasic component of the antennular motor system (A30F, A31F and A32F). 3. The flexion phase of a flick is the result of a burst of variable duration and number of spikes within flexor motoneurones A31F and A32F. 4. The extension phase of a flick is the result of a burst of variable duration and number of spikes in extensor motoneurones A30F and A30S. 5. Extension-withdrawal and slow flexion-withdrawal reflexes, tonic flexion withdrawal and maintained flexion at the MS-DS joint usually result from activity in part of the tonic component of the antennular motor system:moto-neurones A30S, A31S and A32S. 6. Fast flexion-withdrawal reflexes result from a burst of spikes in motoneurone A31F-S which constitutes the phaso-tonic component of the antennular motor system. 7. During high-frequency activity (15-60/sec), reciprocity exists between the slow flexor motoneurones A31S and A32S and slow extensor motoneurone A30S. (+info)
Central patterning and reflex control of antennular flicking in the hermit crab Pagurus alaskensis (Benedict).
1. The effects of altering sensory input on the motoneuronal activity underlying antennular flicking have been tested. 2. Removal of the short segments of the outer flagellum results in a reduction of the number of spikes/burst in the fast flexor motoneurones A31F and A32F. 3. During a flick the delay between the burst in motoneurone A31F and the burst in motoneurone A32F is insensitive to alteration of sensory input. 4. Sensory feedback from the flexion phase of a flick is necessary for the activation of either extensor motoneurone. Evidence is presented to suggest that this feedback is primarily from joint-movement receptors at the MS-DS and DS-OF joints. 5. The results are incorporated into a model in which the patterns of flexor activity result from some specified properties of three components: a trigger system, a follower system, and the spike initiating zone of the flexor motoneurones. The trigger system determines when a flick will occur. The follower system determines the number of flexor spikes during a flick. Properties of the spike initiating zone determine the spike frequency and the timing between bursts in the flexor motoneurones. Extensor activity in the model is reflexively elicited by feedback from phasic, unidirectional receptors sensitive to joint flexion. 6. The functional significance of reflex control of extensor activity is discussed in relation to the form and proposed function of antennular flicking. It is suggested that this form of control is adapted to the function of antennular flicking because flexion at the MS-DS joint is not always necessary for the fulfilment of the fuction of a flick. (+info)
Substrate use and selection in sympatric intertidal hermit crab species.
Coexisting hermit crabs may competitively interact for shells and microhabitats, mainly when shell availability is habitat-related. Three species of Clibanarius (C. antillensis, C. sclopetarius, and C. vittatus) coexist in the intertidal region of Pernambuco Islet, Araca Region, Sao Sebastiao Channel, southeastern Brazil. This study evaluated crab preferences for four substrate types used by these species in nature (rocky shore, pebbles, sand, and mud) in allopatric (single species) and sympatric (three species) treatments in simulations of high tide and low tide. The substrate preference of the three hermit crabs did not vary between low and high tide situations. At low tide the crabs either moved into holes in the highly complex rocky substrate or buried themselves in mud. Substrate selection may explain the patterns of substrate use in nature only for C. vittatus. Clibanarius antillensis and C. sclopetarius showed closer similarities in the pattern of substrate selection in the sympatric treatment with the substrate use in nature than in allopatric treatment, indicating a positive influence (dependence) of the presence of one species on the presence of another. Use of sub-optimal substrates, mainly by C. antillensis, may be caused by other factors such as its low desiccation tolerances. If competition for space takes place among these species, it would be more intense between C. sclopetarius and C. vittatus given their higher overlap in substrate preference than between them and C. antillensis. (+info)