Natural inducers for coral larval metamorphosis
- Cite this article as:
- Heyward, A. & Negri, A. Coral Reefs (1999) 18: 273. doi:10.1007/s003380050193
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Coral gametes from Acropora millepora (Ehrenberg, 1834) and from multi-species spawning slicks provided larvae for use in metamorphosis assays with a selection of naturally occurring inducer chemicals. Four species of crustose coralline algae, one non-coralline crustose alga and two branching coralline algae induced larval metamorphosis. However, one additional species of branching coralline algae did not produce a larval response. Metamorphosis was also observed when larvae were exposed to skeleton from the massive coral Goniastrea retiformis (Lamarck, 1816) and to calcified reef rubble, demonstrating metamorphosis is possible in the absence of encrusting algae. Chemical extracts from these algae and the coral skeleton, obtained using either decalcification or simple methanol extraction procedures, also contained active inducers. These results extend the number of crustose algal species known to induce coral metamorphosis, suggest that some inducers may not necessarily be strongly associated with the calcified algal cell walls, and indicate that inducer sources in reef habitats may be more diverse than previously reported.