Bayer, Till; Aranda, Manuel; Sunagawa, Shinichi; Yum, Lauren; Desalvo, Michael K; Lindquist, Erika; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Voolstra, Christian R.; Medina, Mónica(PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2012-04-18)[Article]
Dinoflagellates are unicellular algae that are ubiquitously abundant in aquatic environments. Species of the genus Symbiodinium form symbiotic relationships with reef-building corals and other marine invertebrates. Despite their ecologic importance, little is known about the genetics of dinoflagellates in general and Symbiodinium in particular. Here, we used 454 sequencing to generate transcriptome data from two Symbiodinium species from different clades (clade A and clade B). With more than 56,000 assembled sequences per species, these data represent the largest transcriptomic resource for dinoflagellates to date. Our results corroborate previous observations that dinoflagellates possess the complete nucleosome machinery. We found a complete set of core histones as well as several H3 variants and H2A.Z in one species. Furthermore, transcriptome analysis points toward a low number of transcription factors in Symbiodinium spp. that also differ in the distribution of DNA-binding domains relative to other eukaryotes. In particular the cold shock domain was predominant among transcription factors. Additionally, we found a high number of antioxidative genes in comparison to non-symbiotic but evolutionary related organisms. These findings might be of relevance in the context of the role that Symbiodinium spp. play as coral symbionts.Our data represent the most comprehensive dinoflagellate EST data set to date. This study provides a comprehensive resource to further analyze the genetic makeup, metabolic capacities, and gene repertoire of Symbiodinium and dinoflagellates. Overall, our findings indicate that Symbiodinium possesses some unique characteristics, in particular the transcriptional regulation in Symbiodinium may differ from the currently known mechanisms of eukaryotic gene regulation.
Voolstra, Christian R.; Sunagawa, Shinichi; Matz, Mikhail V; Bayer, Till; Aranda, Manuel; Buschiazzo, Emmanuel; Desalvo, Michael K; Lindquist, Erika; Szmant, Alina M; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Medina, Mónica(PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2011-05-25)[Article]
Corals worldwide are in decline due to climate change effects (e.g., rising seawater temperatures), pollution, and exploitation. The ability of corals to cope with these stressors in the long run depends on the evolvability of the underlying genetic networks and proteins, which remain largely unknown. A genome-wide scan for positively selected genes between related coral species can help to narrow down the search space considerably.
Jessen, Christian; Lizcano, Javier; Bayer, Till; Roder, Cornelia; Aranda, Manuel; Wild, Christian; Voolstra, Christian R.(PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2013-04-22)[Article]
Coral reefs of the Central Red Sea display a high degree of endemism, and are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic effects due to intense local coastal development measures. Overfishing and eutrophication are among the most significant local pressures on these reefs, but there is no information available about their potential effects on the associated microbial community. Therefore, we compared holobiont physiology and 16S-based bacterial communities of tissue and mucus of the hard coral Acropora hemprichii after 1 and 16 weeks of in-situ inorganic nutrient enrichment (via fertilizer diffusion) and/or herbivore exclusion (via caging) in an offshore reef of the Central Red Sea. Simulated eutrophication and/or overfishing treatments did not affect coral physiology with respect to coral respiration rates, chlorophyll a content, zooxanthellae abundance, or δ (15)N isotopic signatures. The bacterial community of A. hemprichii was rich and uneven, and diversity increased over time in all treatments. While distinct bacterial species were identified as a consequence of eutrophication, overfishing, or both, two bacterial species that could be classified to the genus Endozoicomonas were consistently abundant and constituted two thirds of bacteria in the coral. Several nitrogen-fixing and denitrifying bacteria were found in the coral specimens that were exposed to experimentally increased nutrients. However, no particular bacterial species was consistently associated with the coral under a given treatment and the single effects of manipulated eutrophication and overfishing could not predict the combined effect. Our data underlines the importance of conducting field studies in a holobiont framework, taking both, physiological and molecular measures into account.
Liew, Yi Jin; Aranda, Manuel; Carr, Adrian; Baumgarten, Sebastian; Zoccola, Didier; Tambutté, Sylvie; Allemand, Denis; Micklem, Gos; Voolstra, Christian R.(PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2014-03-21)[Article]
Coral reefs are major contributors to marine biodiversity. However, they are in rapid decline due to global environmental changes such as rising sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, and pollution. Genomic and transcriptomic analyses have broadened our understanding of coral biology, but a study of the microRNA (miRNA) repertoire of corals is missing. miRNAs constitute a class of small non-coding RNAs of ∼22 nt in size that play crucial roles in development, metabolism, and stress response in plants and animals alike. In this study, we examined the coral Stylophora pistillata for the presence of miRNAs and the corresponding core protein machinery required for their processing and function. Based on small RNA sequencing, we present evidence for 31 bona fide microRNAs, 5 of which (miR-100, miR-2022, miR-2023, miR-2030, and miR-2036) are conserved in other metazoans. Homologues of Argonaute, Piwi, Dicer, Drosha, Pasha, and HEN1 were identified in the transcriptome of S. pistillata based on strong sequence conservation with known RNAi proteins, with additional support derived from phylogenetic trees. Examination of putative miRNA gene targets indicates potential roles in development, metabolism, immunity, and biomineralisation for several of the microRNAs. Here, we present first evidence of a functional RNAi machinery and five conserved miRNAs in S. pistillata, implying that miRNAs play a role in organismal biology of scleractinian corals. Analysis of predicted miRNA target genes in S. pistillata suggests potential roles of miRNAs in symbiosis and coral calcification. Given the importance of miRNAs in regulating gene expression in other metazoans, further expression analyses of small non-coding RNAs in transcriptional studies of corals should be informative about miRNA-affected processes and pathways.
Liew, Yi Jin; Li, Yong; Baumgarten, Sebastian; Voolstra, Christian R.; Aranda, Manuel(PLOS Genetics, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2017-02-28)[Article]
RNA editing is a rare post-transcriptional event that provides cells with an additional level of gene expression regulation. It has been implicated in various processes including adaptation, viral defence and RNA interference; however, its potential role as a mechanism in acclimatization has just recently been recognised. Here, we show that RNA editing occurs in 1.6% of all nuclear-encoded genes of Symbiodinium microadriaticum, a dinoflagellate symbiont of reef-building corals. All base-substitution edit types were present, and statistically significant motifs were associated with three edit types. Strikingly, a subset of genes exhibited condition-specific editing patterns in response to different stressors that resulted in significant increases of non-synonymous changes. We posit that this previously unrecognised mechanism extends this organism’s capability to respond to stress beyond what is encoded by the genome. This in turn may provide further acclimatization capacity to these organisms, and by extension, their coral hosts.
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