Life cycle of the cold-water coral Caryophyllia huinayensis

thomas.heran [ at ]


Little is known about the biology of cold‑water corals (CWCs), let alone the reproduction and early life stages of these important deep‑sea foundation species. Through a three‑year aquarium experiment, we described the reproductive mode, larval release periodicity, planktonic stage, larval histology, metamorphosis and post‑larval development of the solitary scleractinian CWC Caryophyllia (Caryophyllia) huinayensis collected in Comau Fjord, Chilean Patagonia. We found that C. huinayensis is a brooder releasing 78.4 ± 65.9 (mean ± standard deviation [SD]) planula larvae throughout the year, a possible adaptation to low seasonality. Planulae had a length of 905 ± 114 μm and showed a well‑ developed gastrovascular system. After 8 ± 9.3 days (d), the larvae settled, underwent metamorphosis and developed the first set of tentacles after 2 ± 1.5 d. Skeletogenesis, zooplankton feeding and initiation of the fourth set of tentacles started 5 ± 2.1 d later, 21 ± 12.9 d, and 895 ± 45.9 d after settlement, respectively. Our study shows that the ontogenetic timing of C. huinayensis is comparable to that of some tropical corals, despite lacking zooxanthellae.

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Primary Division
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Published online
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1038/s41598-023-29620-x

Cite as
Heran, T. , Laudien, J. , Waller, R. G. , Häussermann, V. , Försterra, G. , González, H. E. and Richter, C. (2023): Life cycle of the cold-water coral Caryophyllia huinayensis , Scientific Reports, 13 (1), p. 2593 . doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-29620-x

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