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PeerJ. 2015 Jan 20;3:e734. doi: 10.7717/peerj.734. eCollection 2015.

Captive rearing of the deep-sea coral Eguchipsammia fistula from the Red Sea demonstrates remarkable physiological plasticity.

Author information

1
Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
2
Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

The presence of the cosmopolitan deep-sea coral Eguchipsammia fistula has recently been documented in the Red Sea, occurring in warm (>20 °C), oxygen- and nutrient-limited habitats. We collected colonies of this species from the central Red Sea that successfully resided in aquaria for more than one year. During this period the corals were exposed to increased oxygen levels and nutrition ad libitum unlike in their natural habitat. Specimens of long-term reared E. fistula colonies were incubated for 24 h and calcification (G) as well as respiration rates (R) were measured. In comparison to on-board measurements of G and R rates on freshly collected specimens, we found that G was increased while R was decreased. E. fistula shows extensive tissue growth and polyp proliferation in aquaculture and can be kept at conditions that notably differ from its natural habitat. Its ability to cope with rapid and prolonged changes in regard to prevailing environmental conditions indicates a wide physiological plasticity. This may explain in part the cosmopolitan distribution of this species and emphasizes its value as a deep-sea coral model to study mechanisms of acclimation and adaptation.

KEYWORDS:

Coral rearing; Coral reef; Deep-sea coral; Eguchipsammia fistula; Phenotypic plasticity; Red Sea

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