Skeletal Microstructure of Galaxea fascicularis Exsert Septa: A High-Resolution SEM Study Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The deposition of four crystal types at the growth surface of the septa of several color morphs of the coral Galaxea fascicularis was investigated over a 24-h period. Results suggest that nanocrystals, on denticles at the apices of exsert septa, may be the surface manifestation of centers of calcification. These crystals were also found on the septa of the axial corallite of Acropora formosa. The deposition of nanocrystals appears to be independent of diurnal rhythms. Internally and proximal to the septal apices, distinct clusters of polycrystalline fibers originate from centers of calcification and form fanlike fascicles. Upon these fascicles, acicular crystals grow and extend to form the visible fasciculi at the skeletal surface. Deposition of aragonitic fusiform crystals in both G. fascicularis and A. formosa occurs without diurnal rhythm. Nucleation of fusiform crystals appears to be independent of centers of calcification and may occur by secondary nucleation. Formation of semi-solid masses by fusiform crystals suggests that the crystals may play a structural role in septal extension. Lamellar crystals, which have not been reported as a component of scleractinian coral skeletons before, possess distinct layers of polyhedral plates, although these layers also do not appear to be associated with daily growth increments. The relationship of lamellar crystals to other components of the scleractinian coral skeleton and their involvement in skeletal growth is unknown.

publication date

  • April 2003