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Elife. 2016 May 24;5. pii: e13288. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13288.

Comparative genomics explains the evolutionary success of reef-forming corals.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, United States.
2
Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, United States.
3
Red Sea Research Center, Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering Division, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
4
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Kaneohe, United States.
5
Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, United States.
6
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, United States.
7
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.
8
Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
9
American Museum of Natural History, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, New York, United States.
10
Department of Natural Sciences, City University of New York, Baruch College and The Graduate Center, New York, United States.
11
Department of Biology, Mueller Lab, Penn State University, University Park, United States.
12
School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, University of New Hampshire, Durham, United States.
13
The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gam, Israel.
14
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, United States.
15
Marine Biology Department, The Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Israel.
16
Biological Science Department, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury, New York, United States.
17
Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, United States.
18
Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, United States.
19
Marine Genomics Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Okinawa, Japan.
20
Laboratory of Experimental Medicine and Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, United States.
21
Chaminade University, Honolulu, United States.
22
Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Quai Antoine Ier, Monaco.
23
Institute of Plant Biochemistry, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany.
24
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, New Jersey, United States.

Abstract

Transcriptome and genome data from twenty stony coral species and a selection of reference bilaterians were studied to elucidate coral evolutionary history. We identified genes that encode the proteins responsible for the precipitation and aggregation of the aragonite skeleton on which the organisms live, and revealed a network of environmental sensors that coordinate responses of the host animals to temperature, light, and pH. Furthermore, we describe a variety of stress-related pathways, including apoptotic pathways that allow the host animals to detoxify reactive oxygen and nitrogen species that are generated by their intracellular photosynthetic symbionts, and determine the fate of corals under environmental stress. Some of these genes arose through horizontal gene transfer and comprise at least 0.2% of the animal gene inventory. Our analysis elucidates the evolutionary strategies that have allowed symbiotic corals to adapt and thrive for hundreds of millions of years.

KEYWORDS:

biomineralization; corals; ecology; evolutionary biology; genomics; horizontal gene transfer; stress response; symbiotsis

PMID:
27218454
PMCID:
PMC4878875
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.13288
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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