name = Gribble

image_width = 250px
image_caption = "Limnoria" with eggs
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Arthropoda
subphylum = Crustacea
classis = Malacostraca
ordo = Isopoda
familia = Limnoriidae
familia_authority = White, 1850
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = "Limnoria" "Lynseia" "Paralimnoria"

A gribble is any of about 56 species of marine isopod from the family Limnoriidae. They are mostly pale white and small (1-4 mm long) crustaceans, although "Limnoria stephenseni" from subantarctic waters can reach 10 mm. The term gribble was originally assigned to the wood-boring species, especially the first species described from Norway by Rathke in 1799, "Limnoria lignorum". The Limnoriidae are now known to include seaweed and seagrass borers, as well as wood borers. There are three genera, "Paralimnoria" (two species wood boring), "Limnoria" (about 28 species wood boring, 20 species algal boring, and 3 species seagrass boring) and "Lynseia" (3 species seagrass boring). "Paralimnoria" occurs in the tropics, and has the most plesiomorphic characters. "Lynseia" are so far known only from Australia, while "Limnoria" has species in most seas. Those gribbles able to bore into living marine plants are thought to have evolved from a wood (dead plant) boring species.

Gribbles bore into wood and plant material for ingestion as food. The cellulose of wood is digested, most likely with the aid of cellulases produced by the gribbles themselves. The most destructive species are "Limnoria lignorum", "L. tripunctata" and "L. quadripunctata". Due to dispersal while inhabiting wooden ships, it is uncertain where these three mentioned species originated. Limnoriidae are second only to the Teredinidae in the amount of destruction caused to marine timber structures such as jetties and piers. "L. tripunctata" is unusually tolerant of creosote, a preservative often used to protect timber piles, due to symbiosis with creosote-degrading bacteria. Gribbles bore the surface layers of wood, unlike the Teredinidae which attack more deeply. Their burrows are 1-2 mm diameter, may be several centimetres long, and have the burrow’s roof punctured with a series of smaller ventilation holes. Attacked wood can become spongy and friable.

Gribbles play an ecologically important role, by helping to degrade and recycle driftwood. Most seaweed boring gribbles attack holdfasts, and their activities can cause the seaweed to come adrift especially during storms.

For defence, gribbles can jam themselves within their burrows using their uropods, and block the tunnel with their rear disc-shaped segment, the pleotelson.

A number of crustaceans have evolved as commensals with Limnoriidae. "Chelura" are amphipods that inhabit the more severely attacked regions of gribble-attacked wood. "Donsiella" are tiny copepods that inhabit the brood pouch and body of Limnoriidae.

Key to genera

"See dichotomous key for instructions on using a key."

1: Body more than 6 times as long as wide. Pereopods (legs) 6 and 7 much longer than pereopod 5. Mandibular palp of at most 1 minute article. Maxillipedal palp of 1 or 3 articles. — "Lynseia"

1a: Body less than 5 times as long as wide. Pereopods 6 and 7 not much longer than pereopod 5. Mandibular palp of 0–3 articles; maxillipedal palp of 5 articles. — 2

2: Uropodal rami elongate, both with corneous apex. Antenna 1 flagellum of 5 articles. Pereopod 1 secondary unguis trifid. — "Paralimnoria"

2a: Uropodal exopod much shorter than endopod; only exopod with corneous apex. Antenna 1 flagellum with 4 or fewer articles. Pereopod 1 secondary unguis bifid, simple or sometimes with spinules. — "Limnoria"


* R.J. Menzies. "The marine borer family Limnoriidae (Crustacea, Isopoda). Bulletin of Marine Science of the Gulf and Caribbean. 1957 7: 101-200.
* L.J. Cookson. "Australasian species of the Limnoriidae (Crustacea: Isopoda). Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 1991 52: 137-262.
* L.J. Cookson and G.C.B. Poore. "New species of Lynseia and transfer of the genus to Limnoriidae (Crustacea: Isopoda). Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 1994 54: 179-189.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gribble — Grib ble, n. [Cf. Prov. E. grib to bite.] (Zo[ o]l.) A small marine isopod crustacean ({Limnoria lignorum} or {Limnoria terebrans}), which burrows into and rapidly destroys submerged timber, such as the piles of wharves, both in Europe and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gribble — [grib′əl] n. [prob. dim. < base of GRUB] a small marine isopod (Limnoria lignorum) that bores into wooden objects under water and destroys them …   English World dictionary

  • Gribble — This most interesting surname has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be of early medieval English origin, from the Middle English gribbele , crabtree, blackthorn, and hence a topographical name for a dweller by a crabtree or blackthorn.… …   Surnames reference

  • gribble — noun Etymology: perhaps alteration of 2grub Date: 1838 either of two small wood boring marine isopods (Limnoria lignorum and L. tripunctata) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • gribble — n. (ARTHROPODA: Chelicerata) A small wood boring isopod of the Limnoriidae …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • gribble — /grib euhl/, n. a small, marine isopod crustacean of the genus Limnoria that destroys submerged timber by boring into it. [1830 40; perh. akin to GRUB] * * * ▪ crustacean       any of the approximately 20 species of wood boring, marine… …   Universalium

  • gribble — noun Any of various wood boring marine crustaceans of the genus Limnoria, especially Limnoria lignorum, which cause damage to underwater wooden structures …   Wiktionary

  • gribble — grib·ble …   English syllables

  • gribble — grib•ble [[t]ˈgrɪb əl[/t]] n. ivt any small marine isopod crustacean of the genus Limnoria that destroys submerged timber by boring into it • Etymology: 1830–40 …   From formal English to slang

  • gribble — /ˈgrɪbəl/ (say gribuhl) noun a small marine isopod crustacean, Limnoria, which destroys submerged timber by boring into it. {? related to grub1} …  

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