Embryonic Mobilization of Calcium in a Viviparous Reptile: Evidence for a Novel Pattern of Placental Calcium Secretion
Yolk reserves supply the majority of embryonic nutrition in squamate reptiles, including calcium. Embryos of oviparous squamates exploit the eggshell for supplemental calcium, while embryos of viviparous species may receive additional calcium via the placenta. Developmental uptake of calcium in oviparous snakes increases during the interval of greatest embryonic growth (stage 35 to parturition). However, the pattern of embryonic calcium acquisition is unknown for viviparous snakes. Furthermore, while the uterus of oviparous species transports calcium early in embryonic development during mineralization of the eggshell, the timing of uterine calcium secretion in viviparous snakes is unknown. We studied a viviparous snake, Virginia striatula, to determine the ontogenetic pattern of yolk and embryonic calcium content. The pattern of embryonic calcium uptake of V. striatula is similar to that of oviparous snakes but the sources of calcium differ. In contrast to oviparous species, embryos of V. striatula acquire half of total neonatal calcium via placental provision, of which 71% is mobilized between stage 35 and parturition. Furthermore, we report for the first time in a viviparous squamate an increase in yolk calcium content during early stages of embryonic development, indicating that uterine secretion of calcium occurs in V. striatula coincident with shelling in oviparous squamates. Thus, uterine calcium secretion in this viviparous species may either occur continuously or in two phases, coincident with the timing of shelling in oviparous species and again during the last stages of development. Whereas, the pattern of embryonic calcium acquisition in V. striatula is plesiomorphic for squamates, the pattern of uterine calcium secretion includes both retention of a plesiomorphic trait and the evolution of a novel trait.
Fregoso, Santiago P.; Stewart, James R.; and Ecay, Tom W.. 2010. Embryonic Mobilization of Calcium in a Viviparous Reptile: Evidence for a Novel Pattern of Placental Calcium Secretion. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Vol.156(1). 147-150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2010.01.014 PMID: 20100588 ISSN: 1095-6433