Observations of simultaneous sperm release and larval planulation suggest reproductive assurance in the coral Pocillopora acuta

Smith, Hillary A., Moya, Aurelie, Cantin, Neal E., van Oppen, Madeleine J.H., and Torda, Gergely (2019) Observations of simultaneous sperm release and larval planulation suggest reproductive assurance in the coral Pocillopora acuta. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6. 362.

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Despite being an extensively studied group of corals, the reproductive biology of the scleractinian genus Pocillopora remains a mystery. Pocillopora acuta has been proposed to exhibit a mixed reproductive mode, sexually producing gametes (sperm and eggs) and asexually brooding larvae simultaneously within a single colony. Here, we report observations of night-time spawning of sperm during the peak monthly larval release period. We offer a new hypothesis for the regulation of sexual and asexual reproduction in the species and posit that sexual reproduction may occur more often than previously suggested. However, the success of internal oocyte fertilization and subsequent zygote development is dependent on sperm making contact with a fertile colony. We hypothesize that asexual development of larvae occurs when sperm is absent, but more extensive genetic, genomic, and histological data are required to determine the pathway by which unfertilized oocytes may develop. We also propose that this mixed mode of reproduction is an adaptation to mating failure, common in sessile marine invertebrates. The reproductive assurance enjoyed by the species may therefore be the key to its ecological and evolutionary persistence.

Item ID: 59108
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2296-7745
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2019 Smith, Moya, Cantin, van Oppen and Torda. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Funders: Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FL180100036
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2019 03:59
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310404 Evolution of developmental systems @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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