Chemical mediation of coral larval settlement by crustose coralline algae
Motti, C. A
Tapiolas, D. M.
Negri, A. P.
Schupp, P. J.
Steinberg, Peter David
Date of Issue2015
Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute
Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre (AEBC)
The majority of marine invertebrates produce dispersive larvae which, in order to complete their life cycles, must attach and metamorphose into benthic forms. This process, collectively referred to as settlement, is often guided by habitat-specific cues. While the sources of such cues are well known, the links between their biological activity, chemical identity, presence and quantification in situ are largely missing. Previous work on coral larval settlement in vitro has shown widespread induction by crustose coralline algae (CCA) and in particular their associated bacteria. However, we found that bacterial biofilms on CCA did not initiate ecologically realistic settlement responses in larvae of 11 hard coral species from Australia, Guam, Singapore and Japan. We instead found that algal chemical cues induce identical behavioral responses of larvae as per live CCA. We identified two classes of CCA cell wall-associated compounds – glycoglycerolipids and polysaccharides – as the main constituents of settlement inducing fractions. These algae-derived fractions induce settlement and metamorphosis at equivalent concentrations as present in CCA, both in small scale laboratory assays and under flow-through conditions, suggesting their ability to act in an ecologically relevant fashion to steer larval settlement of corals. Both compound classes were readily detected in natural samples.
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