DAO 102:1-11 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02530

Cellular kinetics in growth anomalies of the scleractinian corals Porites australiensis and Montipora informis 

Naoko Yasuda1, Michio Hidaka2,*

1Marine and Environmental Science, Graduate School of Engineering and Science, and 2Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, Faculty of Science; University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Growth anomalies (GAs) in corals are characterized by morphological abnormalities of the skeleton as well as polyps and coenosarcs. GAs commonly appear as protuberances with fewer polyps and are paler in color due to decreased zooxanthellae density. To test the hypothesis that morphological anomalies in GAs may be caused by unregulated cellular kinetics, the relative abundances of apoptotic cells and proliferating cells were compared between GAs and apparently healthy regions in 2 corals, Porites australiensis and Montipora informis. Apoptotic cells and proliferating cells were detected using TUNEL assays and BrdU incorporation assays, respectively. The labeling indices for apoptotic nuclei and BrdU-labeled nuclei were measured in the epidermis, oral gastrodermis, aboral gastrodermis, and calicodermis. The labeling index for apoptotic nuclei in the oral gastrodermis and the calicodermis was significantly lower in GAs than in healthy regions in both coral species. The index for BrdU-labeled cells in the calicodermis was significantly higher in GAs than in healthy regions in both coral species. When GA regions partially died, the GA tissues directly adjacent to the dead areas exhibited signs of necrosis, although some apoptotic cells were also present. Healthy oral gastrodermis adjacent to the border between the healthy and GA regions exhibited higher frequencies of apoptotic cells. These results suggest that apoptotic pathways were suppressed and cell proliferation was promoted in GA regions, although cells in GAs may die through both necrosis and apoptosis.


KEY WORDS: Apoptosis · Necrosis · Cell proliferation · Coral disease · Growth anomaly · Porites australiensis · Montipora informis


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Cite this article as: Yasuda N, Hidaka M (2012) Cellular kinetics in growth anomalies of the scleractinian corals Porites australiensis and Montipora informis . Dis Aquat Org 102:1-11. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02530

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