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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2006 Jul;144(3):247-53. Epub 2006 Feb 20.

Hormones and reproduction in scleractinian corals.

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  • 1National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, Pingtung 944, Taiwan, ROC.


Most broadcast spawning scleractinian corals synchronously release gametes during a brief annual spawning period. In southern Taiwan, the mass spawning of scleractinians occurs in lunar mid-March. The exact cues triggering this annual phenomenon remain unclear. A scleractinian coral, Euphyllia ancora has been selected as a model for the hormones and reproduction studies. Testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) in free and glucuronided forms were identified and consistently detected in coral polyps throughout the year. Peak levels of free E2, glucuronided E2 and T were obtained in the coral tissue just prior to spawning. The presence of specific aromatase activity was demonstrated in coral tissue. Higher concentrations of free E2 than glucuronided E2 were detected in the coral tissue throughout the year. In contrast, higher levels of glucuronided E2 than free E2 and glucuronided T were found in seawater during mass coral spawning. Furthermore, immunoreactivity and biological activity of immunoreactive gonadotropin-releasing hormone (irGnRH) was detected and quantified in coral tissue. Coral extracts (irGnRH) and mammalian (m)GnRH agonist had a similar dose-dependent effect on luteinizing hormone (LH) release in black porgy fish pituitary cells (in vitro). Peak levels of irGnRH were detected during the spawning period. In in vivo experiments, mGnRH agonist time- and dose-dependently stimulated aromatase activity, as well as the levels of T and E2 in free and glucuronided forms in coral. In conclusion, our data suggest that irGnRH and glucuronided E2 may play important roles in the control of reproduction and mass spawning in corals.

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