A Coral Symbiont Genome Decoded for First Time
Jul. 12, 2013
The Marine Genomics Unit of OIST has decoded the genome of the algae Symbiodinium minutum. The paper was published in the online version of Current Biology on July 11. This is a major advance in understanding the complex ecology of coral reefs.
Coral reefs have enormous ecological and economic importance but the keystone organisms in their establishment, the hard corals, increasingly face a range of challenges including ocean acidification and seawater temperature rise. These corals exist in a symbiotic relationship with algae known as Symbiodinium (Figure 1). Neither organism can survive without the healthy presence of the other. Symbiodinium receives CO2 and a stable, safe living environment from the coral host, while the coral benefits from oxygen and nutrients produced from the symbiont (Figure 2). To gain a precise understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying coral biology, genomic information on both the coral host and algae symbiont is essential.
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