Coral development and comparative genomics

Data from the transcriptomes and genomes of various corals are used to gain insight into genes and regulatory networks that underpin the development and physiology of corals.

Until recently, coral biology was mainly a playing field for ecologists. The wide availability of next-generation sequencing techniques, however, have ushered in a new era in coral biology. The transcriptomic and epigenomic changes that occur during coral development can now be thoroughly characterised and studied in different coral species.

This is a unique opportunity for evolutionary biologists, as these animals diverged from bilaterian animals over 600 million years ago. This research is also of great practical significance, as corals are the foundation of reef ecosystems (the marine environment with the highest biodiversity), but are critically threatened by climate change.