The corallivorous flatworm Amakusaplana acroporae : an invasive species threat to coral reefs?
Fatal infestations of land-based Acropora cultures with so-called Acropora-eating flatworms (AEFWs) are a global phenomenon. We evaluate the hypothesis that AEFWs represent a risk to coral reefs by studying the biology and the invasive potential of an AEFW strain from the UK. Molecular analyses identified this strain as Amakusaplana acroporae, a new species described from two US aquaria and one natural location in Australia. Our molecular data together with life history strategies described here suggest that this species accounts for most reported cases of AEFW infestations. We show that local parasitic activity impairs the light-acclimation capacity of the whole host colony. A. acroporae acquires excellent camouflage by harbouring photosynthetically competent, host-derived zooxanthellae and pigments of the green-fluorescent protein family. It shows a preference for Acropora valida but accepts a broad host range. Parasite survival in isolation (5–7 d) potentially allows for an invasion when introduced as non-native species in coral reefs.
- The corallivorous flatworm Amakusaplana acroporae: an invasive species threat to coral reefs?
- Open Access
- Available under Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Volume 33, Issue 1 , pp 267-272
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
- Additional Links
- Acropora-eating flatworms
- Amakusaplana acroporae
- Invasive species
- GFP-like fluorescent proteins
- Green fluorescent protein
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS), European Way, Southampton, SO143ZH, UK
- 2. Centre for Genomics and Systems Biology, New York University, Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129 188, Abu Dhabi, UAE