, Volume 99, Issue 4, pp 489-494

Self-fertilization and maternal enzymes in the planulae of the coral Goniastrea favulus

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Electrophoretic analysis of planulae obtained from controlled breeding experiments with the coral Goniastrea favulus during spawning events in 1986 and 1987 on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, shows that offspring are produced equally frequently by outcrossing or self-fertilization, leading to a genetically determined rate of selfing of around 50%. Field rates of selfing may be greater than this as a consequence of the limited dispersal of gametes within this species. However, the level of heterozygote depression found in one population is well below that which would be predicted for such levels of selfing. In one enzyme system, glucosephosphate isomerase, the maternal phenotype continues to be expressed in the planula larva for between 11 and 17 d after fertilization. This effect is postulated to result from a residual of maternal enzyme and RNA derived from a relatively large egg.

Communicated by G. F. Humphrey, Sydney