To clarify the natural diet of phyllosoma larvae of the Japanese spiny lobster Panulirus japonicus, the sources of 18S rDNA clones obtained from the hepatopancreas were investigated. Of a total of 1537 clones examined, 160 had different restriction profiles from the host larvae, in which 21 restriction types were observed. Nucleotide sequences of 16 of 21 restriction types were successfully determined and their assignments were investigated by homology search and phylogenetic analysis. From seven late-stage larvae collected in spring to early summer, eukaryote DNA molecules of Teleostei, Oomycetes, Mycetozoa, and Fungi were identified. Exogenous DNA from four younger phyllosoma larvae collected in late autumn could not be recovered. A previous study identified DNAs of cnidarians and urochordates in late-stage phyllosoma larvae of a closely related species collected in winter. This indicates that the phyllosoma larvae are opportunistic carnivores, whose diets correlate with the relative abundance of prey organisms in the ambient water.
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