Analyses of corallimorpharian transcriptomes provide new perspectives on the evolution of calcification in the Scleractinia (corals)

Lin, Mei-Fang, Moya, Aurelie, Ying, Hua, Chen, Chaolun Allen, Cooke, Ira, Ball, Eldon E., Forȇt, Sylvain, and Miller, David J. (2017) Analyses of corallimorpharian transcriptomes provide new perspectives on the evolution of calcification in the Scleractinia (corals). Genome Biology and Evolution, 9 (1). pp. 150-160.

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Corallimorpharians (coral-like anemones) have a close phylogenetic relationship with scleractinians (hard corals) and can potentially provide novel perspectives on the evolution of biomineralization within the anthozoan subclass Hexacorallia. A survey of the transcriptomes of three representative corallimorpharians led to the identification of homologs of some skeletal organic matrix proteins (SOMPs) previously considered to be restricted to corals.

Carbonic anhydrases (CAs), which are ubiquitous proteins involved in CO2 trafficking, are involved in both coral calcification and photosynthesis by endosymbiotic Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae). These multiple roles are assumed to place increased demands on the CA repertoire and have presumably driven the elaboration of the complex CA repertoires typical of corals (note that "corals" are defined here as reef-building Scleractinia). Comparison of the CA inventories of corallimorpharians with those of corals reveals that corals have specifically expanded the secreted and membrane-associated type CAs, whereas similar complexity is observed in the two groups with respect to other CA types.

Comparison of the CA complement of the nonsymbiotic corallimorph Corynactis australis with that of Ricordea yuma, a corallimorph which normally hosts Symbiodinium, reveals similar numbers and distribution of CA types and suggests that an expansion of the CA repertoire has been necessary to enable calcification but may not be a requirement to enable symbiosis. Consistent with this idea, preliminary analysis suggests that the CA complexity of zooxanthellate and nonzooxanthellate sea anemones is similar.

The comparisons above suggest that although there are relatively few new genes in the skeletal organic matrix of corals (which controls the skeleton deposition process), the evolution of calcification required an expanded repertoire of secreted and membrane- associated CAs.

Item ID: 47989
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1759-6653
Keywords: corallimorpharian, coral calcification, carbonic anhydrase, molecular evolution, skeletal organic matrix proteins
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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact

Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2017 05:07
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310410 Phylogeny and comparative analysis @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3102 Bioinformatics and computational biology > 310204 Genomics and transcriptomics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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