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Surface flow for colonial integration in reef-building corals

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John BythellORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Reef-building corals are endangered animals with a complex colonial organization. Physiological mechanisms connecting multiple polyps and integrating them into a coral colony are still enigmatic. Using live imaging, particle tracking, and mathematical modeling, we reveal how corals connect individual polyps and form integrated polyp groups via species-specific, complex, and stable networks of currents at their surface. These currents involve surface mucus of different concentrations, which regulate joint feeding of the colony. Inside the coral, within the gastrovascular system, we expose the complexity of bidirectional branching streams that connect individual polyps. This system of canals extends the surface area by 4-fold and might improve communication, nutrient supply, and symbiont transfer. Thus, individual polyps integrate via complex liquid dynamics on the surface and inside the colony.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bouderlique T, Petersen J, Faure L, Abed-Navandi D, Bouchnita A, Mueller B, Nazarov M, Englmaier L, Tesarova M, Frade PR, Zikmund T, Koehne T, Kaiser J, Fried K, Wild C, Pantos O, Hellander A, Bythell J, Adameyko I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Current Biology

Year: 2022

Volume: 32

Issue: 12

Pages: 2596-2609

Print publication date: 20/06/2022

Online publication date: 12/05/2022

Acceptance date: 20/04/2022

Date deposited: 29/09/2022

ISSN (print): 0960-9822

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0445

Publisher: Cell Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.04.054


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