Recruitment to the reef
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Asexual reproduction

 
Asexual reproduction of tunicates is considered in this section. Click on an icon to learn about asexual reproduction in other reef organisms. hot buttons for asexal reproduction section of BCCR website hot-button icon for linking to the topic of asexual reproduction in seaweeds in BCCR website hot-button icon for linking to the topic of asexual reproduction in sponges in BCCR website hot-button icon for linking to the topic of asexual reproduction in gorgonians in BCCR website hot-button icon for linking to the topic of asexual reproduction in corals/zoanthids in BCCR website hot-button icon for linking to the topic of asexual reproduction in seastars in BCCR website hot-button icon for linking to the topic of asexual reproduction in tunicates in BCCR website
 
 
seahorse dive leader for BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website photograph of a colonial tunicate taken from a video

"This purply growth is a colonial tunicate. You can always tell it from seaweed or sponges by its smooth, slippery texture... but, of course, you mustn't touch the reef organisms!"- Turks & Caicos, 2003

NOTE Didemnum solidum

 
 

Asexual reproduction: tunicates

 

photograph of a Didemnum-type colonial tunicate
Tunicates come in 3 varieties, one solitary; the other two, colonial. Colonial forms may be compound or social. Only the colonial forms have asexual reproduction

Compound tunicates start with the settlement of a single larva. After metamorphosis, the first individual or zoid buds asexually through many cycles to form a flat colony. The zoids have their own inhalent siphons, but several zoids share a common exhalent siphon (see photograph). After reaching maturity all zoids can reproduce sexually.

NOTE lit. "animal-like", referring to the individual pumping/filtering units that make up a colonial tunicate


A Didemnum-type colonial tunicate
showing multiple inhalent siphons servicing
a few common exhalent openings 1X

  photo collage of blue-bell tunicatesBlue-bell tunicates are social colonial forms that also start out as a single larva. After settlement, the larva grows into a single zoid that replicates asexually to produce other small zoids joined together at their bases by living connections known as stolons. A stolon resembles a hollow vine from which the zoids sprout. The stolon allows flow of nutrients and energy throughout the colony.
 
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