Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Decides Whether Coral Relative Will Fuse Or Fight

Date:
March 24, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
When coral colonies meet one another on the reef, they have two options: merge into a single colony or reject each other and aggressively compete for space. Marine scientists have now found a gene that may help to decide that fate.

When coral colonies meet one another on the reef, they have two options: merge into a single colony or reject each other and aggressively compete for space. Now, a report in the March 19th Current Biology has found a gene that may help to decide that fate.

"We have identified a gene that controls how a colonial animal recognizes a member of its own species based on cell-cell contact," said Leo Buss of Yale University. "The ability to recognize individuals implies a capacity to categorize such encounters and, in this case, it allows colonies to discriminate between those individuals with which they will fuse or fight."

The researchers made their discovery by studying a colonial cnidarian called Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus in the laboratory. (Cnidarians are most familiarly represented by corals, sea anemones and jellyfish.) Perhaps best known to Atlantic basin and western Pacific beachcombers as the distinctive white fuzz growing on the top of hermit crab shells, Hydractinia have become a model for scientific exploration of such so-called allorecognition phenomena, which define self versus non-self.

Despite the ubiquity of allorecognition in colonial organisms and its ecological and evolutionary importance, its molecular basis had not been thoroughly defined. Such interactions in nature are also of interest because of their resemblance to those that occur in pregnancy and following organ transplantation.

Now, Buss, Stephen Dellaporta and their interdisciplinary colleagues have identified a key invertebrate allorecognition gene. The gene they identified appears to encode a transmembrane receptor expressed in all tissues capable of allorecognition. It also includes a hypervariable domain and exists in many different varieties that predict how Hydractinia colonies will interact with one another, they show. The gene sequence is most closely related to the immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily of proteins, which include antibodies of the mammalian immune system.

"Relationships have often been suggested between cnidarian and protochordate allorecognition systems or between invertebrate allorecognition systems and elements of the vertebrate immune system..." the researchers wrote. However, while Ig-like domains are found in vertebrate immune molecules and potentially also in the Hydractinia allorecognition gene, there appears to be no additional similarity between the known surface molecules in these systems.

"Indeed," they concluded, "growing evidence suggests that animals have evolved a variety of unique molecular mechanisms to distinguish self from non-self, including the MHC in vertebrates, VCBPs in protochordates, VLR immune molecules in jawless fish, FREP proteins in molluscs, and the FuHC in tunicates. We can now add the Hydractinia allorecognition system to this diversity."

The researchers include Matthew L. Nicotra, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Anahid E. Powell, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Rafael D. Rosengarten, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Maria Moreno, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Jane Grimwood, HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, AL; Fadi G. Lakkis, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA; Stephen L. Dellaporta, Yale University, New Haven, CT; and Leo W. Buss, Yale University, New Haven, CT.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Gene Decides Whether Coral Relative Will Fuse Or Fight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319132913.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, March 24). Gene Decides Whether Coral Relative Will Fuse Or Fight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319132913.htm
Cell Press. "Gene Decides Whether Coral Relative Will Fuse Or Fight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319132913.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins