Comprehensive characterization of skeletal tissue growth anomalies of the finger coral Porites compressa

Isabelle J. Domart-Coulon, Nikki Traylor-Knowles, Esther Peters, David Elbert, Craig A. Downs, Kathy Price, Joanne Stubbs, Shawn McLaughlin, Evelyn Cox, Greta Aeby, P. Randy Brown, Gary K. Ostrander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The scleractinian finger coral Porites compressa has been documented to develop raised growth anomalies of unknown origin, commonly referred to as "tumors". These skeletal tissue anomalies (STAs) are circumscribed nodule-like areas of enlarged skeleton and tissue with fewer polyps and zooxanthellae than adjacent tissue. A field survey of the STA prevalence in Oahu, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, was complemented by laboratory analysis to reveal biochemical, histological and skeletal differences between anomalous and reference tissue. MutY, Hsp90a1, GRP75 and metallothionein, proteins known to be up-regulated in hyperplastic tissues, were over expressed in the STAs compared to adjacent normal-appearing and reference tissues. Histological analysis was further accompanied by elemental and micro-structural analyses of skeleton. Anomalous skeleton was of similar aragonite composition to adjacent skeleton but more porous as evidenced by an increased rate of vertical extension without thickening. Polyp structure was retained throughout the lesion, but abnormal polyps were hypertrophied, with increased mass of aboral tissue lining the skeleton, and thickened areas of skeletogenic calicoblastic epithelium along the basal floor. The latter were highly metabolically active and infiltrated with chromophore cells. These observations qualify the STAs as hyperplasia and are the first report in poritid corals of chromophore infiltration processes in active calicoblastic epithelium areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-543
Number of pages13
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromophore cells
  • Coral disease
  • Hyperplasia
  • Porites compressa
  • Skeletal tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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