Coral Reefs

, 25:297 | Cite as

Assessment of the relative contribution of asexual propagation in a population of the coral-excavating sponge Cliona delitrix from the Bahamas



Cliona delitrix is a very destructive coral-excavating sponge in Caribbean coral reef systems, particularly for Montastraea species. Little is known about how these excavating sponges propagate across coral reefs. In this study a hypothesis was tested that coral breakage caused by the bioeroding activity facilitates the asexual propagation of this sponge and in turn favors the spread of the most aggressive sponge genotypes. An allozyme analysis, involving 12 loci systems of 52 sponge individuals from a total of 13 Montastraea heads, found that no two sponges possessed identical multi-locus genotypes. Contrary to the pattern expected for fragmenting species, the incidence of clonality and asexual propagation at the population level was minimal. The lack of correlation between genetic and physical distances for the studied sponges also suggests that population maintenance appears to derive from larval dispersal, with a spatial range of dispersal larger than the average distance between the coral heads (10–102 m).


Allozymes Porifera Asexual reproduction Genotype 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de Biodiversidade Molecular, Department Genética, Institute BiologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Operational Marine SciencesCentro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes (CSIC)GironaSpain

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