[Coral-List] first captive breeding of ridged cactus coral

Vassil Zlatarski vzlatarski at gmail.com
Fri Apr 24 18:24:58 UTC 2020

Hello all,

The journalistic firework and the echo of contemporary trends provoked by
this article obviously deserve serious attention and will continue, though
permit me a quick researcher's question to Kery, hope also of interest of
some colleagues.

You mentioned "We have held all Mycetophyllia we have close together in a
recirculating aquarium system ..." and you have more than one species.
Since 1970s in this genus were established bimorphic colonies (coralla
showing in different parts characteristics of two described species) and
morphological bridges (series of coralla tracing gradual morphological
transition between two described species), which existence could be
interpreted as result of coral hybridization and chimerism (hope Buki is
around!).  How do you take care of this possibility?

The taxonomic surprises of Mycetophyllia were largely documented by
description of this genus' phenoide in "Los escleractinios de Cuba" (2018;
1980 in Russian; 1982 in French).  The described collection is preserved in
Acuario Nacional, Havana.  An extensive collection of bimorphic
Mycetophyllia was made in 1987 in STRI, Panama. The Spanish version of the
book could be requested at www.harteresearchinstitute.org .  I would be
glad to share more information about Mycetophyllia and send to interested
colleagues the book as pdf.

Best regards,


Vassil Zlatarski
D.Sc. (Biology), Ph.D. (Geology)

On Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 10:35 AM Keri O'Neil via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> Hello all,
> Thank you for sharing the article Doug.  I can provide a little more
> background from the scientific perspective.  The corals that have been
> releasing larvae are Mycetophyllia lamarkiana.  We have also been
> monitoring M. aliciae but no larvae have been released from them yet. These
> corals have been held ex-situ for 18 months at this point.  They were
> collected as part of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Coral Rescue
> Project led by Florida FWC and NOAA Fisheries.  We have held all
> Mycetophyllia we have close together in a recirculating aquarium system,
> hoping that if sperm was released it would have enough residence time in
> the tank to fertilize nearby corals before being removed by filtration.
> The parent corals are held in greenhouses and get natural sunlight (in the
> Tampa area, which is close in timing but not exactly the same as the
> Florida Keys).  We manually change their water temperature setting monthly
> to mimic a 10 year average of water temperature from data from Key Largo,
> FL, with extremes highs removed such as major bleaching years.  They do get
> natural moonlight, but there is a fair amount of light contamination from
> nearby streetlights and even small LEDs in the greenhouse on various
> electronics.  Soon we will look at the recruits from this event to confirm
> that cross fertilization did occur, as genetic samples have also been
> collected from parent colonies in this project.
> Also we definitely did not intend to imply that no work had ever been done
> on MLAM, and can’t control the exact wording in all of the news articles,
> so I do apologize if we did not pay appropriate tribute to previous
> investigations in this species.  We have read the thesis by José Antonio
> Morales Tirado from Ernesto Weil’s lab in 2006 and also Alina’s coral
> reproduction paper from 1986, and these were critical to us even knowing
> when to start to look for larvae in these species, but I think we can all
> admit there is still a lot to document and learn about Mycetophyllia.
> Although this one event certainly will not “save coral reefs”, we are
> simply hopeful that we can continue to keep an ex-situ population of corals
> with a high level of genetic diversity, and promote annual spawning even
> when those corals are held ex-situ for an extended period of time.
> Although no one wants to be faced with pulling corals off of the reef to
> ensure their future, we believe this type of intervention can in fact help
> prevent localized extinction of some species in Florida, and preserve
> genetic diversity in the population, most notably in the wake of Stony
> Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
> As Les said, we are celebrating our small success.
> With regards,
> Keri O'Neil
> Keri O'Neil, MS
> Manager & Senior Scientist, Coral Conservation Program
> 701 Channelside
> Drive
> Tampa, FL 33602
> P:813-425-1679
> W:
> flaquarium.org
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