[ Back to EurekAlert! ]

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
11-May-2009

[ | E-mail ] Share Share

Contact: Dr. Misha Matz
matz@mail.utexas.edu
512-992-8086
University of Texas at Austin
@texasscience

Most extensive genetic resource for reef-building coral created

IMAGE: About 11,000 genes of the larvae of the common Pacific coral Acropora millepora were revealed in a study by University of Texas at Austin biologists Misha Matz and Eli Meyer...

Click here for more information.

AUSTIN, Texas--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."

IMAGE: This is an adult Acropora millepora coral on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

Click here for more information.

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.

IMAGE: This is an adult Acropora millepora under fluorescent light.

Click here for more information.

"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 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.



[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ | E-mail Share Share ]

 


AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.