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ABRUNHOSA, Fernando A. et al. Development and functional morphology of the larval foregut of two brachyuran species from Northern Brazil. An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. [online]. 2011, vol.83, n.4, pp.1269-1278.  Epub Oct 21, 2011. ISSN 0001-3765.

Feeding is an important factor for the successful rearing of larvae of the crab species. Further information on the morphological features of the foregut may to reveal larval feeding behaviour and or/whether there is a lecithotrophy in some or even in all stages of the larval cycle. In the present study, the structural development of the foregut and their digestive functions were examined in larvae of two brachyurans, Uca vocator and Panopeus occidentalis, reared in the laboratory. During larval development, the foreguts of the larvae in the first and last zoeal stages and in the megalopa stage were microscopically examined, described and illustrated. The zoeal foreguts of both species were well developed, showing specialization with a functional cardiopyloric valve and a filter press. The megalopa stage had a complex and specialized gastric mill similar to that found in adult crabs with the appearance of rigidly calcified structures. These results support the hypothesis that the feeding behaviour of each larval stage is directly related to the morphological structure of the foregut. Such facts strongly indicate that all larval stages of both . vocator and P occidentalis need an external food source before completing the larval development in a planktonic environment.

Keywords : digestive system; megalopa; Panopeus occidentalis; stomach; t/ca vocator; zoea.

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