Re: Another internal cell feeding Ercolania

September 13, 2007
From: Bill Rudman

Concerning message #2057:

The fascinating sacoglossan Clay Carlson & Patty-Jo Hoff sent us from Guam some years ago now has a name - Ercolania kencolesi. It was refound by Yvonne Grzymbowski, Kristina Stemmer and Heike Wagele on a research trip to the Australian Museum's Lizard Island research station on the Great Barrier Reef.

 Like the earlier finds, it was also associated with the algae Boergesenia forbesii (Siphonocladales), which consists of giant bubble-shaped cells. Ercolania kencolesi lives both in and out of the algal cells, but to feed it pierces a hole in the giant cell, crawls inside and ingest the cell contents, including the chloroplasts along the inside cell wall. Egg masses are also laid inside the algal cell. This species is very similar in habit to Ercolania endophytophaga which lives and feeds in the giant cells of Struvea plumosa and Valonia sp., two other members of the Siphonocladales.

PHOTOS: Living animals from Lizard Island, Nth Queensland, Australia. Upper: Animal after 2 hours in giant cell of Boergesenia. Lower left: Animal after 4 days starvation, length approx 3 mm. Lower right: Animal just removed from algal cell, length approx 5 mm. Photos with permission from Grzymbowski, Y., Stemmer, K. & Wagele, H, (2007).

Note: This species was previously known on the Forum as Ercolania sp. 1

  • Grzymbowski, Y., Stemmer, K. & Wagele, H. 2007 On a new Ercolania Trinchese, 1872 (Opisthobranchia, Sacoglossa, Limapontiidae) living within Boergesenia Feldmann, 1950 (Cladophorales), with notes on anatomy, histology and biology. Zootaxa, 1577: 3-16

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Sep 13) Re: Another internal cell feeding Ercolania. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Related messages

  1. Ercolania kencolesi from Great Barrier Reef
    From: Bill Rudman, September 5, 2008
  2. Ercolania kencolesi egg-laying
    From: Bill Rudman, September 13, 2007
  3. Another internal cell feeding Ercolania
    From: C. Carlson & P.J. Hoff , March 9, 2000

Show factsheet and all related messages