Forced Fission

Forced fission is a technique that is designed to induce the natural process of longitudinal fission. Before we go into this simple technique, we need to understand natural fission.

Fission is a quite common natural reproduction process in coral. It is the division of an animal into two identical clones. This natural occurrence can be broken down into two categories; longitudinal fission and transverse fission.

Longitudinal fission occurs with a split from the top to the bottom of the animal, creating two identical animals. Although many coral species may undergo this type of reproduction, some of the most common species are anemones, mushrooms (Corallimorpharians), Xeniids, Neptheids, and Alcyoniids.

Transverse fission is a less common form of fission, which generally occurs in animals such as Corallimorphs, better known as mushrooms. When transverse fission occurs, it is usually due to insufficient lighting or an overgrown mushroom rock. The mushroom “pinches” itself off partway up the stock, allowing the disk (capitulum or “head”) to go free in the current in hopes of finding a suitable place to re-attach to. The left-behind stalk may die off or develop another head or disk if the conditions are right.

Forced Fission

Forced fission is a technique that induces longitudinal fission in a species such as mushrooms. The mushroom coral disk is cut with a sharp pair of surgical scissors from the edge through to the mouth. This is one cut from the edge of the disk and stops at the mouth to induce the animal into “cloning” itself.

For this demonstration, we chose a beautiful blue mushroom that we had previously grown onto this Prop PlugTM using the netting technique.

Using a surgical pick (surgical pick #3), the capitulum (or “cap” for short) is gently lifted off the plug to allow for a fine pair of scissors to slip between the cap and plug.

A pair of micro dissecting scissors are shown making a single cut from the outside edge of the cap through to the mouth of the mushroom. It is important to try to make this a clean single cut, not to damage too much tissue during this process.
A close up of the cut used to “force” the fission or cloning process.