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Most Extensive Genetic Resource For Reef-building Coral Created

Date:
May 15, 2009
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
A nearly complete collection of genes for a species of reef-building coral has been assembled. The scientists will use the genetic data to understand natural variations in corals from around the world and how they respond, at the genetic level, to rising water temperatures.

The coral.
Credit: Meyer et al., BMC Genomics

A nearly complete collection of genes for a species of reef-building coral has been assembled by a team led by biologists from The University of Texas at Austin.

The scientists will use the genetic data to understand natural variations in corals from around the world and how they respond, at the genetic level, to rising water temperatures.

"One of the most important questions for coral biologists is whether it will be possible for corals to adapt to the warming oceans," says Eli Meyer, postdoctoral researcher in the Section of Integrative Biology. "Answering that question requires a detailed knowledge of the genes that corals use to respond to stress."

Meyer and Mikhail Matz, assistant professor of integrative biology, developed an improved method for sequencing all of the genes being used by an organism, known as the "transcriptome." Those genes, plus other non-expressed genes and DNA, together equal the organism's entire genome.

Their analysis revealed about 11,000 different genes in the widely studied Pacific coral, Acropora millepora.

Meyer and Matz published their findings in the journal BMC Genomics, but the gene sequences and markers were made public online directly following their availability.

Researchers from around the world have already begun to use the data. They are studying diverse aspects of coral biology such as response to stress, synchronization of mass spawning and relatedness of coral populations across the Pacific.

"I think this will facilitate an explosion in the science of coral adaptation and evolution," says Matz. "We developed a big boot to kick down a door leading to coral genomics."

Matz and Meyer say their method can be used to study the genes of any other organism that isn't yet common to genomic research.

"In about one month's time, you can now have almost a complete catalog of any organism's genes," says Matz.

Find the coral genes online at http://www.bio.utexas.edu/research/matz_lab/matzlab/454.html.

The research was performed in collaboration with John Colbourne's group at Indiana University in Bloomington, and the group of Bette Willis at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eli Meyer, Galina V Aglyamova, Shi Wang, Jade Buchanan-Carter, David Abrego, John K Colbourne, Bette L Willis and Mikhail V Matz. Sequencing and de novo analysis of a coral larval transcriptome using 454 GS-Flx. BMC Genomics, (in press)

Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Austin. "Most Extensive Genetic Resource For Reef-building Coral Created." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511210422.htm>.
University of Texas at Austin. (2009, May 15). Most Extensive Genetic Resource For Reef-building Coral Created. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511210422.htm
University of Texas at Austin. "Most Extensive Genetic Resource For Reef-building Coral Created." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511210422.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

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