, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 247-254
Date: 09 Nov 2007

Metamorphosis and acquisition of symbiotic algae in planula larvae and primary polyps of Acropora spp.

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Coral planulae settle, then metamorphose and form polyps. This study examined the morphological process of metamorphosis from planulae into primary polyps in the scleractinian corals Acropora nobilis and Acropora microphthalma, using the cnidarian neuropeptide Hym-248. These two species release eggs that do not contain Symbiodinium. The mode of acquisition of freshly isolated Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae) (FIZ) by the non-symbiotic polyp was also examined. Non-Hym-248 treated swimming Acropora planulae did not develop blastopore, mesenteries or coelenteron until the induction of metamorphosis 16 days after fertilization. The oral pore was formed by invagination of the epidermal layer after formation of the coelenteron in metamorphosing polyps. At 3 days after settlement and metamorphosis, primary polyps exposed to FIZ established symbioses with the Symbiodinium. Two–four days after exposure to FIZ, the distribution of Symbiodinium was limited to the gastrodermis of the pharynx and basal part of the polyps. Eight–ten days after exposure to FIZ, Symbiodinium were present in gastrodermal cells throughout the polyps.

Communicated by Biology Editor M.P. Lesser.