A comparative view of early development in the corals Favia lizardensis, Ctenactis echinata, and Acropora millepora - morphology, transcriptome, and developmental gene expression

Okubo, Nami, Hayward, David C., Foret, Sylvain, and Ball, Eldon E. (2016) A comparative view of early development in the corals Favia lizardensis, Ctenactis echinata, and Acropora millepora - morphology, transcriptome, and developmental gene expression. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 16. 48. pp. 1-12.

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Background: Research into various aspects of coral biology has greatly increased in recent years due to anthropogenic threats to coral health including pollution, ocean warming and acidification. However, knowledge of coral early development has lagged. The present paper describes the embryonic development of two previously uncharacterized robust corals, Favia lizardensis (a massive brain coral) and Ctenactis echinata (a solitary coral) and compares it to that of the previously characterized complex coral, Acropora millepora, both morphologically and in terms of the expression of a set of key developmental genes.

Results: Illumina sequencing of mixed age embryos was carried out, resulting in embryonic transcriptomes consisting of 40605 contigs for C.echinata (N50 = 1080 bp) and 48536 contigs for F.lizardensis (N50 = 1496 bp). The transcriptomes have been annotated against Swiss-Prot and were sufficiently complete to enable the identification of orthologs of many key genes controlling development in bilaterians. Developmental series of images of whole mounts and sections reveal that the early stages of both species contain a blastocoel, consistent with their membership of the robust clade. In situ hybridization was used to examine the expression of the developmentally important genes brachyury, chordin and forkhead. The expression of brachyury and forkhead was consistent with that previously reported for Acropora and allowed us to confirm that the pseudo-blastopore sometimes seen in robust corals such as Favia spp. is not directly associated with gastrulation. C.echinata chordin expression, however, differed from that seen in the other two corals.

Conclusions: Embryonic transcriptomes were assembled for the brain coral Favia lizardensis and the solitary coral Ctenactis echinata. Both species have a blastocoel in their early developmental stages, consistent with their phylogenetic position as members of the robust clade. Expression of the key developmental genes brachyury, chordin and forkhead was investigated, allowing comparison to that of their orthologs in Acropora, Nematostella and bilaterians and demonstrating that even within the Anthozoa there are significant differences in expression patterns.

Item ID: 44049
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2148
Keywords: coral development, Favia, Ctenactis, Acropora, Transcriptome, in situ hybridization, brachyury, chordin, forkhead
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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Tokyo Keizai University (TKU), Research Institute of Marine Invertebrates (RIMI)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery grant DP1095343, JSPS LAKENHI 15 K18599, TKU Research Grant 2015, RIMI Research Grant 2015KO_3
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2016 07:39
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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