The diatom-derived polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs), 2-trans
-heptadienal, as well as tridecanal were tested on early and later larval development in the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus
. We also tested the effect of some of the more abundant diatom polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on development, in particular 5,8,11,14,17-eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the main precursors of diatom PUAs, as well as 4,7,10,13,16,19-docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), 6,9,12,15-octadecatetraenoic acid (stearidonic acid), 6,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid (γ-linolenic acid) and 9,12-octadecadienoic acid (linoleic acid). PUAs blocked sea urchin cell cleavage in a dose dependent manner and with increasing chain length from C7 to C10 PUAs, with arrest occurring at 27.27 µM with heptadienal, 16.13 µM with octadienal, 11.47 µM with octatrienal and 5.26 mM with decadienal. Of the PUFAs tested, only EPA and stearidonic acid blocked cleavage, but at much higher concentrations compared to PUAs (331 μM for EPA and 181 μM for stearidonic acid). Sub-lethal concentrations of decadienal (1.32–5.26 μM) delayed development of embryos and larvae which showed various degrees of malformations depending on the concentrations tested. Sub-lethal concentrations also increased the proportion of TUNEL-positive cells indicating imminent death in embryos and larvae. Using decadienal as a model PUA, we show that this aldehyde can be detected spectrophotometrically for up to 14 days in f/2 medium.