Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team
Biologist Nathan Mineo
Written by Nathan Mineo Did you know that spotted salamander embryos have a symbiotic relationship with algae? This isn’t really breaking news; biologists have known of this relationship for quite some time. Victor Hutchison and Carl Hammen (1958) discovered that spotted salamander embryos obtain oxygen from the algae, Oophila amblystomatis, which grows within the gelatinous matrix of salamander egg masses. Most aquatic organisms’ egg-bound embryos obtain oxygen from the surrounding water by diffusion. Salamander embryos are no different, but they get an added boost of oxygen from the photosynthesizing O. amblystomatis. Remember, vernal pools are very low in oxygen, so this added oxygen from the algae makes life a little easier for the salamander embryos. Hutchison and Hammen also found that something more than oxygen from the algae, a “growth-stimulating substance” perhaps, was responsible for the increased growth, increased hatchling size, and increased survival of salamander larvae. But what...?
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