Nonfeeding larvae of the gastropod Haliotis rufescens maintained a constant amount of taurine during embryonic and larval development and, since no de novo synthesis of taurine was observed in these larvae, the maternal endowment of taurine to the egg was sufficient for larval development to metamorphosis. In contrast, feeding larvae of the bivalve Crassostrea gigas increased their taurine content by a factor of 43 during growth to metamorphosis (from 86 to 311 µm, valve length). Taurine was not present in algae used to feed the larvae, suggesting that de novo synthesis of taurine by the larvae met their requirements. In unfed larvae, cysteic acid, cysteine sulfinic acid and hypotaurine were labeled from a [35S]cysteine precursor, but taurine was not. Hyperosmotic treatment (from 33 to 44 salinity for up to 3 h) did not induce taurine synthesis in unfed larvae. However, larvae fed the alga Isochrysis galbana up-regulated their taurine synthesis from [35S]cysteine by a factor of 11 (fed, 11.7±2.2 fmol taurine larva-1 h-1; unfed controls, 1.08±0.33 fmol taurine larva-1 h-1; means ± s.e.m.). Fed larvae also synthesized taurine from [35S]methionine (18.4 fmol larva-1 h-1). I. galbana contained 5 fmol cell-1 of cysteine and methionine (combined) and, based on known feeding rates, we calculated that there were sufficient taurine precursors in the algae to supply the taurine requirements of growing larvae. The lack of significant de novo taurine synthesis reported for adult bivalve molluscs has led to the conclusion that taurine is a dietary requirement. Our findings for larval forms differ in that there is significant de novo synthesis of taurine during development.

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