Glycera (annelid)

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Bloodworms
Glycera alba (dim).jpg
Glycera sp.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Phyllodocida
Family: Glyceridae
Genus: Glycera
Savigny, 1818
Species

many, see text

The genus Glycera is a group of polychaetes (bristle worms) commonly known as bloodworms. They are typically found on the bottom of shallow marine waters, and some species (e.g. common bloodworms) can grow up to 35 centimetres (14 in) in length.

Anatomy[edit]

Bloodworms have a creamy pink color, as their pale skin allows their red body fluids that contain hemoglobin to show through. This is the origin of the name "bloodworm". At the 'head', bloodworms have four small antennae and small fleshy projections called parapodia running down their bodies.[1][2] Bloodworms can grow up to 35 centimetres (14 in) in length.

Ecology[edit]

They spend most of the time in the sandy or silty bottoms of the intertidal or subtidal regions. Though usually marine, they can tolerate low salt levels in the water, and also poor oxygen levels.

Bloodworms are carnivorous. They feed by extending a large proboscis that bears four hollow jaws. The jaws are connected to glands that supply venom which they use to kill their prey, and their bite is painful even to a human. They are preyed on by other worms, by bottom-feeding fish and crustaceans, and by gulls.

Reproduction occurs in midsummer, when the warmer water temperature and lunar cycle among other factors triggers sexually mature worms to transform into a non-feeding stage called the epitoke. With enlarged parapodia, they swim to the surface of the water where both sexes release gametes, and then die.

The first stage in many forms of bloodworm is a zooplanktonic stage followed by the benthic instar where the familiar segmented red larvae develop protected by silk tubes made in the bottom silt. These larvae progress from tiny pale opaque worms to the larger red larvae of 3 to 10 centimeters in length or longer over a period of as short a period as 2–3 weeks in optimum conditions.[3]

The animals are unique in that they contain a lot of copper without being poisoned. Their jaws are unusually strong since they too contain the metal in the form of a copper-based chloride biomineral, known as atacamite,[4] in crystalline form.[5] It is theorized that this copper is used as a catalyst for its venomous bite.

Systematics[edit]

Glycera is the type genus of the family Glyceridae. It contains the following species:[6]

Use by humans[edit]

Glycera worms are sold commercially in tackle shops as bait for saltwater fishing.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chien PK, Rice MA (1985). "Autoradiographic localization of exogenously supplied amino acids after uptake by the polychaete, Glycera dibranchiata Ehlers". Wasmann Journal of Biology. 43: 60–71. ISSN 0043-0927. OCLC 6322423. 
  2. ^ Qafaiti M, Stephens GC (1988). "Distribution of Amino Acids to Internal Tissues After Epidermal Uptake in the Annelid Glycera dibranchiata" (PDF). Journal of Experimental Biology. 136 (1): 177–191. 
  3. ^ Bloodworm: Uses and applications as a fishing bait
  4. ^ Lichtenegger HC, Schöberl T, Bartl MH, Waite H, Stucky GD (October 2002). "High abrasion resistance with sparse mineralization: copper biomineral in worm jaws". Science. 298 (5592): 389–92. doi:10.1126/science.1075433. PMID 12376695. 
  5. ^ Lichtenegger HC, Schöberl T, Ruokolainen JT, et al. (August 2003). "Zinc and mechanical prowess in the jaws of Nereis, a marine worm". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100 (16): 9144–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.1632658100. PMC 170886Freely accessible. PMID 12886017. 
  6. ^ Fauchald, K.; Bellan, G. (2009). Glycera Savigny, 1818. In: Fauchald, K. (Ed) (2009). World Polychaeta database. Accessed through the World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=129296 on 2009-03-12.
  7. ^ WHITTLE, PATRICK (2017-04-27). "Abating Bait: Decline in Prized Worms Threatens Way of Life". U.S. News. 
"Fishing for Allergens: Bloodworm-Induced Asthma" study at the Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology (AACI) site

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