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Nature. 2017 Apr 5;544(7649):231-234. doi: 10.1038/nature22033.

The crown-of-thorns starfish genome as a guide for biocontrol of this coral reef pest.

Author information

1
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Cape Ferguson, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia.
2
Centre for Marine Science, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.
3
Marine Genomics Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Onna, Okinawa 904-0495, Japan.
4
Genecology Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland 4558, Australia.
5
DNA Sequencing Section, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Onna, Okinawa 904-0495, Japan.

Abstract

The crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS, the Acanthaster planci species group) is a highly fecund predator of reef-building corals throughout the Indo-Pacific region. COTS population outbreaks cause substantial loss of coral cover, diminishing the integrity and resilience of reef ecosystems. Here we sequenced genomes of COTS from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and Okinawa, Japan to identify gene products that underlie species-specific communication and could potentially be used in biocontrol strategies. We focused on water-borne chemical plumes released from aggregating COTS, which make the normally sedentary starfish become highly active. Peptide sequences detected in these plumes by mass spectrometry are encoded in the COTS genome and expressed in external tissues. The exoproteome released by aggregating COTS consists largely of signalling factors and hydrolytic enzymes, and includes an expanded and rapidly evolving set of starfish-specific ependymin-related proteins. These secreted proteins may be detected by members of a large family of olfactory-receptor-like G-protein-coupled receptors that are expressed externally, sometimes in a sex-specific manner. This study provides insights into COTS-specific communication that may guide the generation of peptide mimetics for use on reefs with COTS outbreaks.

PMID:
28379940
DOI:
10.1038/nature22033
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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