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Hourglass Mechanism with Temperature Compensation in the Diel Periodicity of Planulation of the Coral, Seriatopora hystrix
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Author: Che-Hung Lin et al.

by Che-Hung Lin, Keryea Soong, Tung-Yung Fan

Brooding corals often exhibit daily planulation peaks in certain phases of lunar months during their reproductive season. The mechanism controlling this diurnal phenomenon, however, remains uncertain. Seriatopora hystrix populations of Southern Taiwan exhibit a highly synchronized planulation rhythm characterized by pre-dawn peak release episodes over a period of 4–6 days per month throughout the year. In this study, controlled light-dark cycles and temperatures were used to study the mechanism of the diel planulation rhythm in the laboratory. Seriatopora hystrix did not release planulae under continuous light or continuous darkness. Thus, the lack of free-run did not support a regulatory mechanism involving an endogenous oscillator. Under some lighting conditions, planula release occurred in two peaks per day. Both peaks always occur under dark phases of various light-dark cycles in the laboratory. The first peak occurred when the dark period just started, which might be stimulated by an abrupt transition between light and darkness. The second, pre-dawn peak consistently occurred 23 hrs after application of light. We concluded that this peak of planula release of S. hystrix was cued by sunrise of the previous day. Temperature treatments at 1°C intervals from 23.5–28.5°C did not change the diel time of planula release. We suggest that the temperature compensation exhibited in the hourglass model of this species may have a common origin as that of the oscillator model of circadian clocks, due to the similar duration (23 h) and period (~24 h) between the two. The timing mechanism of planulation discovered here represents an intermediate stage between the hourglass and the oscillator models.