[Coral-List] Age of clones?

TDWYATT at aol.com TDWYATT at aol.com
Fri Jan 20 16:42:26 EST 2006

Dear Charles, Alina, Mark, Andrew, et. al...
I think we miss the gist of what these corals are... 
They're colonies ... of individuals.  The true age of the individuals  
speaking in terms of telemers and actual physical age would be based on the age  of 
each individual as they were formed.  This goes back to the earlier  comment 
that the age OF THE COLONY would be based on several individual markers,  
possibly the genetics of individuals within the colony that mutate as their  genes 
are continuously replicated.  We are not speaking of an  organism composed of 
individual cells (although we often slip into the  thought of these as 
individual creatures), rather, each individual polyp is an  organisms unto itself, 
and although they specialize and develop roles within the  colony, they are 
still individual organisms within a colonial "organism," and as  such will have 
ages based on when they were "born" at the axial tip, etc.   Even though their 
"birth" does not entail genetic recombination (heh, unless  they start some 
genetic aberration from too much time in the sun... ), it still  would represent 
their age in terms of how long the individual has existed, and  how likely due 
to continued mitosis they would be to develop mutations (an age  marker of 
sorts depending on environment and genetics).
I don't think we can say that the formation of individual polyps at the  
axial tip is the same as watching our bodies grow new cells to make epithelium  or 
close wounds, in spite of the fact that all the polyps may all be  
genetically identical. I would think that would be like asking an elementery  school 
class what their age (as a class) would be...
Just another 2 cents worth to the discussion.
Warmest Regards,
Tom Wyatt
_tdwyatt at aol.com_ (mailto:tdwyatt at aol.com) 
<<In a message dated 1/20/2006 3:40:35 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
peck at hawaii.edu writes:

> It  seems to me that the "individual" in this case is any fragment or 
>  propagule that is physically separate from other propagules of the 
>  same clonal unit. Once we get into defining an individual coral by 
>  genetic components over time, it gets quite interesting - and 
>  complicated. Although a somewhat more absolute point is planula 
>  settlement - as noted, corals are annoyingly plastic.


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