The Atlantic-Mediterranean polychaete Sabellaria alveolata lives in agglutinated tubes adjoined to each other to form discrete reef-like bioconstructions in shallow-water settings characterised by high hydrodynamic energy where sediment particles are constantly resuspended. Tubes are built with sand grains glued by proteinaceous secretions. Analyses of a reef fragment collected near Sampieri (SE Sicily, Sicily Strait) allowed the first detailed description of the tube architecture and biocement of this worms from the Mediterranean. The tube consists of an inner thin organic membrane and three agglutinated layers including: (a) a thin inner layer of flat grains arranged side by side; (b) a thick mid layer with a frame of relatively large sub-rounded grains with cavities partly filled by small grains; and (c) a thin outer layer of large, flat to curved, usually biogenic clasts diverging towards the opening. This particular architecture is distinctive of the family. Morphological and epifluorescence observations revealed that biocement consists of drops at the contact between sub-spherical grains and strips along edges of flat grains. Biocement is a solid foam-like material characterised by high abundance of carbon; the presence of phosphorous and nitrogen confirms its proteinaceous composition. Due to the electrostatic interaction with the proteins, calcium and magnesium are most likely complexed to the cement rather than being trapped in the cells. These elements contribute to the solidification of the glue and stabilisation of the tube structure. However, the organic nature of cement and the high energy of their habitat, make sabellariid reefs dynamic and ephemeral, and the preservation as fossils unlikely, with a confident record only extending back to the Miocene.

Sabellaria alveolata sandcastle worm from the Mediterranean Sea: new insights on tube architecture and biocement

Rosso A.;Mastandrea A.;Guido A.
2019

Abstract

The Atlantic-Mediterranean polychaete Sabellaria alveolata lives in agglutinated tubes adjoined to each other to form discrete reef-like bioconstructions in shallow-water settings characterised by high hydrodynamic energy where sediment particles are constantly resuspended. Tubes are built with sand grains glued by proteinaceous secretions. Analyses of a reef fragment collected near Sampieri (SE Sicily, Sicily Strait) allowed the first detailed description of the tube architecture and biocement of this worms from the Mediterranean. The tube consists of an inner thin organic membrane and three agglutinated layers including: (a) a thin inner layer of flat grains arranged side by side; (b) a thick mid layer with a frame of relatively large sub-rounded grains with cavities partly filled by small grains; and (c) a thin outer layer of large, flat to curved, usually biogenic clasts diverging towards the opening. This particular architecture is distinctive of the family. Morphological and epifluorescence observations revealed that biocement consists of drops at the contact between sub-spherical grains and strips along edges of flat grains. Biocement is a solid foam-like material characterised by high abundance of carbon; the presence of phosphorous and nitrogen confirms its proteinaceous composition. Due to the electrostatic interaction with the proteins, calcium and magnesium are most likely complexed to the cement rather than being trapped in the cells. These elements contribute to the solidification of the glue and stabilisation of the tube structure. However, the organic nature of cement and the high energy of their habitat, make sabellariid reefs dynamic and ephemeral, and the preservation as fossils unlikely, with a confident record only extending back to the Miocene.
agglutinate tube structure; bioconstruction; present-day; protein glue; Sabellaridae; Sicily Strait
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/296631
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