Sexual systems in scleractinian corals: an unusual pattern in the reef-building species Diploastrea heliopora

Guest, J.R., Baird, A.H., Goh, B.P.L., and Chou, L.M. (2012) Sexual systems in scleractinian corals: an unusual pattern in the reef-building species Diploastrea heliopora. Coral Reefs, 31 (3). pp. 705-713.

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The sexual system in corals refers to the spatial and temporal pattern of sexual function within an individual coral polyp, colony or population. Although information on sexual systems now exists for over 400 scleractinian species, data are still lacking for some important reef-building taxa. The vast majority of scleractinians are either simultaneous hermaphrodites or gonochoric with other sexual systems rarely occurring. Diploastrea heliopora is one of the most ubiquitous and easily recognised reef-building species in the Indo-West Pacific; however, surprisingly little is known about its reproductive biology. The aim of the present study was to examine the reproductive biology of D. heliopora colonies on chronically impacted, equatorial reefs south of Singapore. Here we show that in Singapore, D. heliopora is a broadcast spawner with predominantly gonochoric polyps. Colonies, however, contained male, female and a low proportion of cosexual polyps during the 14-month sampling period. The most plausible explanation for this is that polyps switch sexes with oogenic and spermatogenic cycles occasionally overlapping. This leads to colony level alternation of sex function within and between breeding seasons. While this sexual system is atypical for scleractinians, it supports molecular evidence that D. heliopora is phylogenetically distinct from species formerly in the family Faviidae.

Item ID: 22482
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: coral reef, reproduction, Singapore
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2012 07:10
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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