TitleLate larval development and onset of symbiosis in the scleractinian coral Fungia scutaria
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsSchwarz, JA, Krupp, DA, Weis, VM
JournalBiological Bulletin
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Many corals that harbor symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) produce offspring that initially lack zooxanthellae. This study examined late larval development and the acquisition of zooxanthellae in the scleractinian coral Fungia scutaria, which produces planula larvae that lack zooxanthellae. Larvae reared under laboratory conditions developed the ability to feed 3 days after fertilization; feeding behavior was stimulated by homogenized Artemia. Larvae began to settle and metamorphose 5 days after fertilization. In laboratory experiments, larvae acquired experimentally added zooxanthellae by ingesting them while feeding. Zooxanthellae entered the gastric cavity and were phagocytosed by endodermal cells. As early as 1 h after feeding, zooxanthellae were observed in both endodermal and ectodermal cells. Larvae were able to form an association with three genetically distinct strains of zooxanthellae. Both zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate larvae underwent metamorphosis, and azooxanthellate polyps were able to acquire zooxanthellae from the environment. Preliminary evidence suggests that the onset of symbiosis may influence larval development; in one study symbiotic larvae settled earlier than aposymbiotic larvae. Protein profiles of eggs and larvae throughout development revealed a putative yolk protein doublet that was abundant in eggs and 1-day-old larvae and was absent by day 6. This study is the first to examine the onset of symbiosis between a motile cnidarian host and its algal symbiont.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000078835400009