Ontogenetic change in the lipid and fatty acid composition of scleractinian coral larvae
Figueiredo, J., Baird, A.H., Cohen, M.F., Flot, J-F., Kamiki, T., Meziane, T., Tsuchyia, M., and Yamasaki, H. (2012) Ontogenetic change in the lipid and fatty acid composition of scleractinian coral larvae. Coral Reefs, 31 (2). pp. 613-619.
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Some scleractinian coral larvae have an extraordinary capacity to delay metamorphosis, and this is reflected in the large geographic range of many species. Coral eggs typically contain a high proportion of wax esters, which have been hypothesized to provide a source of energy for long-distance dispersal. To better understand the role of lipids in the dispersal of broadcast spawning coral larvae, ontogenetic changes in the lipid and fatty acid composition of Goniastrea retiformis were measured from the eggs until larvae were 30 days old. Egg biomass was 78.8 ± 0.5% lipids, 86.3 ± 0.2% of which were wax esters, 9.3 ± 0.0% polar lipids, 4.1 ± 0.2% sterols, and 0.3 ± 0.1% triacylglycerols. The biomass of wax esters declined significantly through time, while polar lipids, sterols and triacylglycerols remained relatively constant, suggesting that wax esters are the prime source of energy for development. The most prevalent fatty acid in the eggs was palmitic acid, a marker of the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium, highlighting the importance of symbiosis in coral reproductive ecology. The proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids declined through time, suggesting that they are essential for larval development. Interestingly, triacylglycerols are only abundant in the propagules that contain Symbiodinium, suggesting important differences in the energetic of dispersal among species with vertical and horizontal transmission of symbionts.
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