Similar to many marine invertebrates, scleractinian corals experience a dramatic morphological transformation, as well as a habitat switch, upon settlement and metamorphosis. At this time, planula larvae transform from non-calcifying, demersal, motile organisms into sessile, calcifying, benthic juvenile polyps. We performed gene expression microarray analyses between planulae, aposymbiotic primary polyps, and symbiotic adult tissue to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying coral metamorphosis and early stages of calcification in the Robust/Short clade scleractinian coral Montastraea faveolata. Among the annotated genes, the most abundant upregulated transcripts in the planula stage are involved in protein synthesis, chromatin assembly and mitochondrial metabolism; the polyp stage, morphogenesis, protein catabolism and organic matrix synthesis; and the adult stage, sexual reproduction, stress response and symbiosis. We also present evidence showing that the planula and adult transcriptomes are more similar to each other than to the polyp transcriptome. Our results also point to a large number of uncharacterized adult coral-specific genes likely involved in coral-specific functions such as symbiosis and calcification.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science