Embryogenesis in the reef building corals Acropora intermedia, A. solitaryensis, A. hyacinthus, A. digitifera, and A. tenuis was studied in detail at the morphological level, and the relationships among the animal pole, blastopore, and mouth were investigated for the first time in corals. These species showed essentially the same sequence of development. The embryo undergoes spiral-like holoblastic cleavage despite the presence of a dense isolecithal yolk. After the morula stage, the embryo enters the “prawn-chip” stage, which consists of an irregularly shaped cellular bilayer. The embryo begins to roll inward to form the bowl stage; the round shape observed during this stage suggests that it may be the beginning of gastrulation. However, the blastopore closes and the stomodeum (mouth and pharynx) is formed via invagination at a site near the closed blastopore. During the planula stage, a concavity forms in the aboral region in conjunction with numerous spirocysts, suggesting that spirocysts are used to attach to the substrate before the onset of metamorphosis.
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