Capacity for regeneration in crown of thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci
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KeywordsCoral Reef Asexual Reproduction Anecdotal Report Central Disc Tissue Loss
The capacity of A. planci to regenerate remains controversial. While A. planci is not known to undergo asexual reproduction, sectioned animals have been reported to survive for prolonged periods (Sweatman and Butler 1992). We cut four individuals into two equal halves (Fig. 1b), and another four individuals into two sections approximating 2/3 and 1/3. Animals were kept in individual flow-through tanks and photographed over a 7-week period. A total of 100 % mortality was observed in all four 1/3 segments within 3 d. In contrast, 75 % of both halves and 75 % of 2/3 segments survived. At 7 weeks, the wounds appeared to be greatly healed (Fig. 1c) and some of the segments were regenerating new arms (Fig. 1d). These results provide evidence that A. planci can regenerate from extensive tissue loss, but survivorship appears to be dependent on maintaining at least part of the central disc. Sectioning A. planci as a measure to control populations should be avoided in the absence of further knowledge regarding the survivorship, feeding ability and reproductive capacity of regenerated individuals.
Funding was received through the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station. Photo credit 1a: Dr. Katharina Fabricius, Australian Institute of Marine Science.
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