Characterization of mechanisms for Ca2+ and HCO 3-/CO32- acquisition for shell formation in embryos of the freshwater common pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis

Sue C. Ebanks, Michael J. O'Donnell, Martin Grosell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The freshwater common pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis produces embryos that complete direct development, hatching as shellbearing individuals within 10days despite relatively low ambient calcium and carbonate availability. This development is impaired by removal of ambient total calcium but not by removal of bicarbonate and/or carbonate. In this study we utilized pharmacological agents to target possible acquisition pathways for both Ca2+ and accumulation of carbonate in post-metamorphic, shell-laying embryos. Using whole egg mass flux measurements and ion-specific microelectrode analytical techniques, we have demonstrated that carbonic anhydrase-catalyzed hydration of C O2 is central in the acquisition of both shell-forming ions because it provides the hydrogen ions for an electrogenic vacuolar-type H+-ATPase that fuels the uptake of Ca2+ via voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels and possibly an electrogenic Ca2+/1H+ exchanger. Additionally, C O2 hydration provides an endogenous source of HCO3-. Thus, hydration of endogenous C O2 forms HCO 3-for calcification while hydrogen ions are excreted, contributing to continued Ca2+uptake, as well as creating favorable alkaline internal conditions for calcification. The connections between Ca2+ and HCO3-acquisition mechanisms that we describe here provide new insight into this efficient, embryonic calcification in freshwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4092-4098
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Calcification
  • Embryonic development
  • Ion transport
  • Ion-selective microelectrode
  • Metamorphosis
  • Pulmonate snail

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Insect Science
  • Aquatic Science
  • Medicine(all)


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