Coral Defense

The main defense products of corals are of terpenoid origin (Figure 5). Despite the toxicity of these compounds to most fishes, some specialized fishes feed on the corals. The soft corals Sarcophyton sp. produce the toxic terpene macrolide sarcophytoxide 26. Sarcophytoxide 26 released into the water causes a decrease in photosynthesis of the coral Acropora formosa, already in low concentrations. Therefore 26 not only serves as an antifeedant but also provides an advantage in competing for living space. Nevertheless, the specialist snail Ovula ovum feeds on these corals, with sarcophytoxide 26 probably being detoxified in the intestine.

Pukalide 28

OO Lophotoxin 29

OO Lophotoxin 29

COOH

Pukalide 28

COOH

Prostaglandin A2 30

Figure 5 Chemical defense of corals.

of inflammation whereas high concentrations of prostaglandin A2 are toxic and render the coral unpalatable (e.g., for fish).

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