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Reproduction and colony integration of the sea pen Virgularia juncea
Soong, K. (2005). Reproduction and colony integration of the sea pen Virgularia juncea. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 146(6): 1103-1109.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Soong, K.

    The distribution of fertile polyps, and the functional variations of polyps within sea-pen colonies, were investigated in Virgularia juncea, a species inhabiting shallow waters in the Penghu Islands, west of Taiwan. This gonochoristic species started gametogenesis between July and September, and mature gametes were broadcast in late summer the following year. Fertile pinnae and their constituent polyps were located in the middle region of the rachis; the upper and lower regions were infertile. Within the fertile regions, fecundity per centimeter decreased linearly toward the tips of the colonies. Abundant zooxanthellae were found in the upper part of the rachis; algal densities decreased down the axis of the colonies, and no algae were present in the lower part. New pinnae were generated only at the basal part of the rachis, They moved upward in relative position with growth of the colonies. These young pinnae near the peduncle were small and infertile. With time, they became fertile and started to harbor a few zooxanthellae. The old pinnae at the upper part of the rachis were large and infertile and contained numerous zooxanthellae. The tips of the colonies were often damaged, and the bare axial rods there were often fragile and could be easily broken off. The developmental gradient of pinnae (and their constituent polyps) along the axes of the colonies, coupled with the environmental gradient within a sea-pen colony, facilitates the functional differentiation within the rachis that may be an adaptation for inhabiting the interface between the water column and the sediment.

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