Osmoregulatory abilities and mechanisms of adults and larvae of decapod crustaceans have been extensively investigated. However, how embryos carried by their mothers can deal with changing or extreme salinities is less understood. The egg membranes are believed to isolate embryos from a challenging environment, although osmoregulatory ability has been demonstrated in early developing embryos (naupliar stage) of two crabs. To establish whether embryos are isolated by their membranes and/or are able to osmoregulate, we measured the survival and volume change over 48 h of oocytes and embryos in different stages of three carideans (Betaeus lilianae, Palaemon macrodactylus and P. argentinus) and the brachyuran Neohelice granulata, subjected to different salinities. In addition, we recorded osmolality changes in homogenates of the same stages in P. argentinus and N. granulata after 2 h of exposure and mapped the presence of putative sites of ions exchange in the membrane of all species. High mortality, when it occurred, was associated with low salinity and mortality variation with the stage of development depended on the species. All species precipitated silver salts in or under the egg envelope, with a different pattern between carideans and the brachyuran. Changes in osmolality and egg volume after hypo- or hyper-osmotic salinity challenges indicate that eggs are not fully isolated by their membranes, and that some osmoregulatory mechanisms are in play to maintain developmental homeostasis. We suggest that egg membranes can participate in osmoregulation by selectively transporting ions to an intramembrane space, with differences between carideans and brachyurans.

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