Comparative genomics explains the evolutionary success of reef-forming corals

Debashish Bhattacharya, Shobhit Agrawal, Manuel Aranda, Sebastian Baumgarten, Mahdi Belcaid, Jeana L Drake, Douglas Erwin, Sylvian Foret, Ruth D Gates, David F Gruber, Bishoy Kamel, Michael P Lesser, Oren Levy, Yi Jin Liew, Matthew MacManes, Tali Mass, Monica Medina, Shaadi Mehr, Eli Meyer, Dana C PriceHollie M Putnam, Huan Qiu, Chuya Shinzato, Eiichi Shoguchi, Alexander J Stokes, Sylvie Tambutté, Dan Tchernov, Christian R. Voolstra, Nicole Wagner, Charles W Walker, Andreas PM Weber, Virginia Weis, Ehud Zelzion, Didier Zoccola, Paul G Falkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


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.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue numberMAY2016
StatePublished - May 24 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation, especially EF-1408097, to PGF, DB, RDG, HMP and TM, which sponsored the workshop. Additional funding was provided by the National Science Foundation through grants EF-1041143/RU 432635 and EF-1416785 awarded to PGF, DB, and TM, respectively. RDG, HMP, and AJS were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, NIMHD P20MD006084, the Hawaii Community Foundation, Leahi Fund 13ADVC-60228 and NSF OCE PRF 1323822 and National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Hawaii: EPS-0903833. CRV and MA acknowledge funding by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparative genomics explains the evolutionary success of reef-forming corals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this