Coral clonal chimeras

We are all too aware of the threats ecosystem engineers, such as corals, face in light of global climate change.

However, a new study by Rinkevich et al. (2016) suggest chimerism may be a a weapon to combat climate change.

The coral Pocillopora damicornis can release either sexual or asexual planula-larvae. Rinkevich et al. (2016) documented the release of asexual propagules from mosiacked maternal colonies that are chimeras.

In a single clutch, … each of the chimeric larvae presented different combinations of maternal genotypic constituents, altogether creating a unique genetic variability by means of asexual reproduction.

This genetic variability may confer ecological advantages to this type of reproduction. These novel genetic entities have a greater store of variability and may have a much wider range of physiological responses.

Could this be a partial reprieve for some brooding corals?

References

Rinkevich et al. (2016) Venturing in coral larval chimerism: a compact functional domain with fostered genotypic diversity. Scientific Reports 6, 19493.

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About Stacy Krueger-Hadfield

I am a marine evolutionary ecologist interested in the impacts of seascapes and complex life cycles on marine population dynamics. I use natural history, manipulative field experiments and population genetic and genomic approaches with algal and invertebrate models in temperate rocky shores,estuaries and the open ocean.
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