Settlement of larvae from four families of corals in response to a crustose coralline alga and its biochemical morphogens

Whitman, Taylor N., Negri, Andrew P., Bourne, David G., and Randall, Carly J. (2020) Settlement of larvae from four families of corals in response to a crustose coralline alga and its biochemical morphogens. Scientific Reports, 10. 16397.

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Healthy benthic substrates that induce coral larvae to settle are necessary for coral recovery. Yet, the biochemical cues required to induce coral settlement have not been identified for many taxa. Here we tested the ability of the crustose coralline alga (CCA) Porolithon onkodes to induce attachment and metamorphosis, collectively termed settlement, of larvae from 15 ecologically important coral species from the families Acroporidae, Merulinidae, Poritidae, and Diploastreidae. Live CCA fragments, ethanol extracts, and hot aqueous extracts of P. onkodes induced settlement (>10%) for 11, 7, and 6 coral species, respectively. Live CCA fragments were the most effective inducer, achieving over 50% settlement for nine species. The strongest settlement responses were observed in Acropora spp.; the only non-acroporid species that settled over 50% were Diploastrea heliopora, Goniastrea retiformis, and Dipsastraea pallida. Larval settlement was reduced in treatments with chemical extracts compared with live CCA, although high settlement (>50%) was reported for six acroporid species in response to ethanol extracts of CCA. All experimental treatments failed (< 10%) to induce settlement in Montipora aequituberculata, Mycedium elephantotus, and Porites cylindrica. Individual species responded heterogeneously to all treatments, suggesting that none of the cues represent a universal settlement inducer. These results challenge the commonly-held notion that CCA ubiquitously induces coral settlement, and emphasize the critical need to assess additional cues to identify natural settlement inducers for a broad range of coral taxa.

Item ID: 64939
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Copyright Information: Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit (C) The Author(s) 2020.
Funders: Australian Institute of Marine Science, AIMS@JCU, James Cook University
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2020 07:50
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 50%
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