Elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus reduce fertilisation success of gametes from scleractinian reef corals
Harrison, P & Ward, S 2001, 'Elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus reduce fertilisation success of gametes from scleractinian reef corals', Marine Biology, vol. 139, no. 6, pp. 1057-1068.
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Spawned gametes were collected from colonies of Acroporalongicyathus at One Tree Island and Goniastreaaspera at Magnetic Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, for use in fertilisation trials. Mean fertilisation rates were significantly reduced compared with controls (P<0.003), when gametes from the branching coral A. longicyathus were exposed to elevated ammonium concentrations at 1 µM and above in one cross (60–64% reduction), and at 100 µM in another cross (16% reduction). Mean fertilisation success of A. longicyathus gametes was also significantly reduced compared with controls in both crosses (P=0.000) at concentrations of 1 µM phosphate and above (35–75% reduction), and at 1 µM ammonium plus 1 µM phosphate and all higher concentrations (68–74% reduction). Similarly, the mean percentage of regular embryos that were developing normally was significantly reduced in most nutrient treatments compared with controls (P=0.000). Fertilisation trials using gametes from the brain coral G. aspera resulted in a significantly lower percentage of regular embryos (P=0.001) and a significantly higher percentage of deformed embryos (P=0.001) developing after exposure to elevated nutrient treatments compared with controls. Mean fertilisation rates for this species were only significantly reduced (P=0.034) in the 50 µM ammonium plus phosphate treatment in one cross (8% reduction), compared with the control. Therefore, ammonium and phosphate enrichment significantly impairs fertilisation success and embryo development in scleractinian reef corals.