Unveiling Molecular Basis of Fertilisation in Scleractinian Corals Using Extensive Genomic Information
Pages 182-187 (6)
Many aspects of the reproductive biology of scleractinian corals remain unknown. External fertilisation during
broadcast spawning events generates the potential for interspecific hybridisation, yet whilst efficient cross-fertilisation
often occurs in vitro and species boundaries are blurred due to introgression, in nature hybridisation happens rarely even
between sympatric and highly cross-fertile species. One potential explanation of the discrepancy between the observed
and potential level of hybridisation is temporal partitioning. An essential first step towards resolving this apparent paradox
is an understanding of the molecular basis of fertilisation in corals. Here I summarise those aspects of fertilisation
mechanisms in some of the best-characterised animal systems (Vertebrata, Mollusca, Echinodermata) under the premise
that these may provide insight into the mechanisms dictating fertilisation in spawning corals. This leads to propose that
interactions involving integrins, ADAM family proteins and modifiers/co-receptors may underlie gamete interactions in
corals. The identification of fast-evolving genes such as ADAMs also promises to provide candidates for roles in coral
fertilisation. Overall in this review I describe how new genomic information can shed light on the molecular basis of coral
fertilisation and this will help progress our understanding of the reproductive systems in this keystone group of reefbuilding
Acropora, ADAM-integrin interactions, corals, fast-evolving genes, fertilisation, genome.
Department of Bioresources Engineering, Okinawa National College of Technology, 905 Henoko, Nago- City, Okinawa 905-2171, Japan.