Coral Reefs

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 143–147 | Cite as

Spermatozoan ultrastructure of scleractinian corals from the eastern Pacific: Pocilloporidae and Agariciidae

  • S. C. C. Steiner
  • J. Cortés


Spermatozoa ofPocillopora damicornis, Pocillopora elegans (Astrocoeniina, Pocilloporidae) andPavona gigantea (Fungiina, Agariciidae) from the eastern Pacific (Isla del Caño, Costa Rica) were examined using transmission electron microscopy. The hermaphroditic pocilloporidsP. damicornis andP. elegans are spermiomorphologically very similar to hermaphroditic acroporids, being characterized by bullet-shaped nuclei and elongated mitochondria. Such traits have not been found in other families. Thus, the suborder Astrocoeniina, including pocilloporids and acroporids, can clearly be distinguished from other scleractinian suborders. This separation underlines the isolated position of the Astrocoeniina within the order Scleractinia following the evolutionary scheme of Wells. A conical sperm type, known from gonochoric species (sexes separate) from all families except Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae, was found in the gonochoric agariciidPavona gigantea. This supports previous findings that gonochoric corals share a unique and common sperm structure regardless of which family they belong to. However, no gonochoric Astrocoeniina have ever been examined. Hence, the question whether the sperm type common to gonochorists is also represented in Astrocoeniina, which would undermine the ultrastructural distinction of Astrocoeniina and other suborders seen among hermaphrodites, as well as the systematic value of sperm structure within scleractinian corals, remains open.


Microscopy Electron Microscopy Transmission Electron Microscopy Evolutionary Scheme Sedimentology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Afzelius BA (1979) Sperm structure in relation to phylogeny in lower metazoa. In: Fawcett DW, Bedford JM (eds) The Spermatozoon. Urban and Schwarzenberg, Baltimore, USA, pp 243–251Google Scholar
  2. Franzen A (1956) On spermiogenesis, morphology of the spermatozoon, and the biology of fertilization among invertebrates. Zool Bidr Uppsala 31:355–482Google Scholar
  3. Glynn PW, Gassman NJ, Eakin CM, Cortés J, Smith DB, Guzmán HM (1991) Reef coral reproduction in the eastern Pacific: Costa Rica, Panama, and Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). I. Pocilloporidae. Mar Biol 109:355–368Google Scholar
  4. Harrison PL (1985) Sexual characteristics of scleractinian corals: systematical and evolutionary implications. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 4: 337–342Google Scholar
  5. Harrison PL (1988) Comparative ultrastructure of Scleractinian Spermatozoa and its evolutionary implications. PhD Thesis, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Australia, 282 ppGoogle Scholar
  6. Richmond RM (1985) Variations in population biology ofPocillopora damicornis across the Pacific. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Congr 6:101–106. In: Gabrie E et al. (eds) Antenne Museum-EPHE, Moorea, French PolynesiaGoogle Scholar
  7. Richmond RM (1987) Energetic relationships and biogeographical differences among the fecundity, growth and reproduction in the reef coral,Pocillopora damicornis. Bull Mar Sci 41:594–604Google Scholar
  8. Richmond RM, Hunter CL (1990) Reproduction and recruitment of corals: comparison among the Caribbean, the tropical Pacific and the Red Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 60:185–203Google Scholar
  9. Schmidt H, Zissler D (1979) Die Spermien der Anthozoen und ihre phylogenetische Bedeutung. Zoologica 44(129):1–98Google Scholar
  10. Steiner SCC (1991) Sperm morphology of scleractinians from the Caribbean. In: Williams RB, Cornelius PFS, Hughes RG, Robson EA (eds) Coelenterate biology recent research on Cnidaria and Ctenophora, Kluwer Dordrecht, Belgium pp 131–245Google Scholar
  11. Steiner SCC (1993) Comparative ultrastructural studies on scleractinian spermatozoa (Cnidaria, Anthozoa). Zoomorphology 113:129–136Google Scholar
  12. Steiner SCC, Klepal W (1991) Ultrastrukturelle Untersuchungen an Spermatozoen von Scleractinia (Cnidaria, Anthozoa). Verh Dtsch Zool Ges 84:518–519Google Scholar
  13. Stoddart JA, Black R (1985) Cycles of gametogenesis and planulation in the coral Pocillopora damicornis. Mar Ecol Prog S 23:153–164Google Scholar
  14. Szmant-Froelich A, Yevich P, Pilson MEQ (1980) Gametogenesis and early developement of the temperate coralAstrangia danae (Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Biol Bull 158:257–269Google Scholar
  15. Wells JW (1956) Scleractinia. In: Moore RC (ed) Treatise on invertebrate paleontology. Pt F Coelenterata. Geol Soc America, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, pp 328–444Google Scholar
  16. Wirth U (1984) Die Struktur der Metazoen-Spermien und ihre Bedeutung für die Phylogenie. Verh Naturwiss Ver Hamburg 27:295–372Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. C. C. Steiner
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Cortés
    • 2
  1. 1.The School for Field StudiesCenter for Marine Resource Studies (South Caicos)Ft LauderdaleUSA
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y LimnologiaUniversidad de Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica

Personalised recommendations