Coral Reefs

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–8 | Cite as

Skeletal mineralogy of newly settling Acropora millepora (Scleractinia) coral recruits

  • P. L. ClodeEmail author
  • K. Lema
  • M. Saunders
  • S. Weiner


Knowledge of skeletogenesis in scleractinian corals is central to reconstructing past ocean and climate histories, assessing and counteracting future climate and ocean acidification impacts upon coral reefs, and determining the taxonomy and evolutionary path of the Scleractinia. To better understand skeletogenesis and mineralogy in extant scleractinian corals, we have investigated the nature of the initial calcium carbonate skeleton deposited by newly settling coral recruits. Settling Acropora millepora larvae were sampled daily for 10 days from initial attachment, and the carbonate mineralogy of their newly deposited skeletons was investigated. Bulk analyses using Raman and infrared spectroscopic methods revealed that the skeletons were predominantly comprised of aragonite, with no evidence of calcite or an amorphous precursor phase, although presence of the latter cannot be discounted. Sensitive selected area electron diffraction analyses of sub-micron areas of skeletal regions further consolidated these data. These findings help to address the uncertainty surrounding reported differences in carbonate mineralogy between larval and adult extant coral skeletons by indicating that skeletons of new coral recruits share the same aragonitic mineralogy as those of their mature counterparts. In this respect, we can expect that skeletogenesis in both larval and mature growth stages of scleractinian corals will be similarly affected by ocean acidification and predicted environmental changes.


Larvae Biomineral Calcium carbonate Calcite Amorphous precursor Calcification 



The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Prof. Bette Willis, Dr. David Bourne and Karen Chon Seng with coral collection and settling, and Ms. Julia Mahamid with Raman spectroscopy. We also acknowledge the facilities of the Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation & Analysis, The UWA, a facility funded by The University, State and Commonwealth Governments. PLC received funding through the Fay Gale Fellowship to undertake part of this research at the WIS. SW is the incumbent of the Dr. Walter and Dr. Trude Burchardt Professorial Chair of Structural Biology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. L. Clode
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • K. Lema
    • 3
    • 4
  • M. Saunders
    • 1
  • S. Weiner
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (M010)The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.Oceans InstituteThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Structural BiologyWeizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael

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