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Bacteria on the surface of crustose coralline algae induce metamorphosis of the crown-of-thorns starfish Acanthaster planci



227 120 120 2 2 C. R. Johnson D. C. Sutton Department of Zoology University Queensland 4072 Brisbane Queensland Australia Sir George Fisher Centre for Tropical Marine Studies James Cook University 4811 Townsville Queensland Australia Abstract The crustose coralline alga Lithothamnium pseudosorum induces high rates of settlement and metamorphosis of larvae of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish ( Acanthaster planci ). In cases where crustose coralline algae (CCA) induce metamorphosis of marine invertebrate larvae it is normally assumed that the inductive molecules are produced by the alga, but an alternative is that they originate from bacteria on the plant surface. Bioassays using shards of L. pseudosorum treated with several antibiotics, whereby some shards were reinfected with bacteria from the alga, showed that if bacteria populations are depleted then settlement and metamorphosis of larvae of A. planci are inhibited. This demonstrates that bacteria are necessary for induction and suggests that morphogenic substances are produced by bacteria on the surface of the alga and not directly by the alga itself. However, surface bacteria are not inductive if they are isolated from soluble algal compounds, suggesting either that they require a substrate from the alga to produce the inductive agents or, alternatively but less likely, that compounds from both the alga and bacteria are required. There is no evidence that inductive compounds derive from the alga, since algal cell debris and soluble extracts prepared from the alga do not induce metamorphosis of A. planci . This is the first time that induction of metamorphosis in a marine invertebrate by CCA has been shown to be mediated by bacteria associated with the alga.



Marine BiologySpringer Journals

Published: Sep 1, 1994

DOI: 10.1007/BF00349692

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