Scientia Marina, Vol 82, No 1 (2018)

Symbiotic relationship between the carapid fish Onuxodon fowleri (Ophidiiformes: Carapidae) and the pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Pteriidae)

Orphal Colleye
Laboratoire de Morphologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Université de Liège, Institut de chimie (B6C), Belgium

Loïc Kéver
Laboratoire de Morphologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Université de Liège, Institut de chimie (B6C), Belgium

Gilles Lepoint
MARE, Laboratoire d’Océanologie, Université de Liège, Institut de Chimie (B6C), Belgium

David Lecchini
EPHE, PSL Research University, UPVD-CNRS - Laboratoire d’Excellence “CORAIL”, France

Eric Parmentier
Laboratoire de Morphologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Université de Liège, Institut de chimie (B6C), Belgium


At Makemo Atoll (French Polynesia), the carapid fish Onuxodon fowleri lives in symbiosis with the black-lip pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera. Although the symbiont seems to live inside its host bivalve by using it as a shelter, additional data are still needed to better understand the exact nature of this association. For this purpose, we implemented an approach using stable isotope ratios of carbon (13C/12C) and nitrogen (15N/14N). The δ13C and δ15N values were measured in tissues of the pearl oyster (gonads, gills, mantle and muscles), white muscle tissue from the fish and other food sources. This stable isotope approach was also complemented by the analysis of stomach contents in the carapid fish. Overall, the isotopic compositions measured in the present study support a commensal relationship between O. fowleri and P. margaritifera. In addition, our isotopic data bring new information about another guest living inside P. margaritifera, namely the palaemonid shrimp Conchodytes meleagrinae. Based on the δ13C and δ15N values, it appears that the shrimp might feed on the bivalve gonads.


symbiosis; stable isotopes; diet; pearl oyster; Carapidae

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