We are using mass spectrometry, in conjunction with our nearly complete transcriptome, to identify organic components of the coral skeleton.
Although the coral skeleton consists mainly of CaCO3 in the form of aragonite, it also contains proteins, which may be important in determining the overall morphology of the coral colony. The decreasing costs of gene sequencing, mainly as a result of high throughput technology, make it financially practical to investigate this possibility in species of diverse morphologies. Our initial efforts to combine transcriptome data with mass spectrometry, on Acropora millepora, have thus far resulted in identification of three skeletal proteins. We hope to expand this approach to other coral species in the future.