Because many corals reproduce asexually through regeneration from fragments, establishing a simple relationship between the age and size of a coral is problematic. Here, we attempted to test the coral telomere length as an indicator of age and senescence, because telomere shortening occurs during cell division. We examined the association between the size (weight) of a coral and the average length of its telomeres as determined by single telomere length analysis (STELA) products. We chose as our study species the solitary coral Ctenactis echinata, which is unlikely to reproduce via fragmentation and has never been observed to reproduce asexually via budding. We amplified DNA fragments containing part of a telomere with part of the subtelomeric region using a dualsuppression PCR, and determined DNA sequences of subtelomeric regions in order to design chromosomespecific primers for the STELA. The average length of STELA products was calculated from densitometric data, and it was plotted against the weight of the coral. Although sperm exhibited a longer telomere length than that of somatic tissues, there was no significant relationship between the average length of the STELA products and the weight of individuals. These results suggest that telomere shortening occurs during early development in this solitary coral. Moreover, our findings are expected to provide a genetic basis for coral aging. Future research on the range of telomere changes occurring in this coral would further our understanding of how age and size are related.
|Number of pages||6|
|State||Published - 2012|