Calcification processes are largely unknown in scleractinian corals. In this study, live confocal imaging was used to elucidate the spatiotemporal dynamics of the calcification process in aposymbiotic primary polyps of the coral species Acropora digitifera. The fluorophore calcein was used as a calcium deposition marker and a visible indicator of extracellular fluid distribution at the tissue-skeleton interface (subcalicoblastic medium, SCM) in primary polyp tissues. Under continuous incubation in calcein-containing seawater, initial crystallization and skeletal growth were visualized among the calicoblastic cells in live primary polyp tissues. Additionally, the distribution of calcein-stained SCM and contraction movements of the pockets of SCM were captured at intervals of a few minutes. Our experimental system provided several new insights into coral calcification, particularly as a first step in monitoring the relationship between cellular dynamics and calcification in vivo. Our study suggests that coral calcification initiates at intercellular spaces, a finding that may contribute to the general understanding of coral calcification processes.
- Live imaging
- Primary aposymbiotic coral polyp
- Sub calicoblastic medium
ASJC Scopus subject areas