Report

Coral Reefs

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 531-543

First online:

Comprehensive characterization of skeletal tissue growth anomalies of the finger coral Porites compressa

  • Isabelle J. Domart-CoulonAffiliated withDépartement Milieux et Peuplements Aquatiques, UMR 5178 BOME, Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle
  • , Nikki Traylor-KnowlesAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Esther PetersAffiliated withTetra Tech, Inc.Registry of Tumors in Lower Animals
  • , David ElbertAffiliated withDepartment of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Craig A. DownsAffiliated withHaereticus Environmental Laboratory
  • , Kathy PriceAffiliated withNOAA NOS Cooperative Oxford Laboratory
  • , Joanne StubbsAffiliated withDepartment of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Shawn McLaughlinAffiliated withNOAA NOS Cooperative Oxford Laboratory
  • , Evelyn CoxAffiliated withHawaii Institute of Marine Biology
    • , Greta AebyAffiliated withHawaii Institute of Marine Biology
    • , P. Randy BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Comparative Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
    • , Gary K. OstranderAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Johns Hopkins UniversityPacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at ManoaDepartment of Comparative Medicine, Johns Hopkins University Email author 

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Abstract

The scleractinian finger coral Porites compressa has been documented to develop raised growth anomalies of unknown origin, commonly referred to as “tumors”. These skeletal tissue anomalies (STAs) are circumscribed nodule-like areas of enlarged skeleton and tissue with fewer polyps and zooxanthellae than adjacent tissue. A field survey of the STA prevalence in Oahu, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, was complemented by laboratory analysis to reveal biochemical, histological and skeletal differences between anomalous and reference tissue. MutY, Hsp90a1, GRP75 and metallothionein, proteins known to be up-regulated in hyperplastic tissues, were over expressed in the STAs compared to adjacent normal-appearing and reference tissues. Histological analysis was further accompanied by elemental and micro-structural analyses of skeleton. Anomalous skeleton was of similar aragonite composition to adjacent skeleton but more porous as evidenced by an increased rate of vertical extension without thickening. Polyp structure was retained throughout the lesion, but abnormal polyps were hypertrophied, with increased mass of aboral tissue lining the skeleton, and thickened areas of skeletogenic calicoblastic epithelium along the basal floor. The latter were highly metabolically active and infiltrated with chromophore cells. These observations qualify the STAs as hyperplasia and are the first report in poritid corals of chromophore infiltration processes in active calicoblastic epithelium areas.

Keywords

Hyperplasia Coral disease Skeletal tissue Chromophore cells Porites compressa