The Coral Symbiomics Lab
Red Sea Research Center
Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering

Publications in 2017

Comparative Analysis of the Genomes of Stylophora Pistillata and Acropora Digitifera Provides Evidence for Extensive Differences between Species of Corals

​Voolstra, Christian R., Yong Li, Yi Jin Liew, Sebastian Baumgarten, Didier Zoccola, Jean-François Flot, Sylvie Tambutté, Denis Allemand, and Manuel Aranda. "Comparative Analysis of the Genomes of Stylophora Pistillata and Acropora Digitifera Provides Evidence for Extensive Differences between Species of Corals." Scientific Reports 7, no. 1 (2017/12/14 2017): 17583.
Voolstra Christian R., Li Yong, Liew Yi Jin, Baumgarten Sebastian, Zoccola Didier, Flot Jean-François, Tambutté Sylvie, Allemand Denis, Aranda Manuel
Stylophora, Acropora, Comparative genomics
2017
​Stony corals form the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. Their phylogeny is characterized by a deep evolutionary divergence that separates corals into a robust and complex clade dating back to at least 245 mya. However, the genomic consequences and clade-specific evolution remain unexplored. In this study we have produced the genome of a robust coral, Stylophora pistillata, and compared it to the available genome of a complex coral, Acropora digitifera. We conducted a fine-scale gene-based analysis focusing on ortholog groups. Among the core set of conserved proteins, we found an emphasis on processes related to the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Genes associated with the algal symbiosis were also independently expanded in both species, but both corals diverged on the identity of ortholog groups expanded, and we found uneven expansions in genes associated with innate immunity and stress response. Our analyses demonstrate that coral genomes can be surprisingly disparate. Future analyses incorporating more genomic data should be able to determine whether the patterns elucidated here are not only characteristic of the differences between S. pistillata and A. digitifera but also representative of corals from the robust and complex clade at large.