[Coral-List] Coral genome

David Obura dobura at cordio.info
Thu Sep 18 11:39:21 EDT 2003

Dear all,

Like Bob, I¹ve been following with some interest, and it helps to have Mike
Matz¹ full Œcriteria¹ laid out.

At the risk of being labelled Œcoralist¹ I cannot see the value in selecting
a species/genus that is minor in the global sense, which Montastrea is.  In
the long run it probably does not matter about the ecological importance of
the first species to be used, but it does matter about its phylogenetic
pedigree, and any current/immediate-future work related to gene-environment
processes.  To my mind, this would put Porites, Acropora and Pocillopora at
the head of the list, in roughly that order, with one of the more prominent
faviid genera (Favia, Favites, Platygyra) next.

Many of the genetic/methodological criteria Mike mentioned may not be known
yet for either Acropora or Porites ­ in which case why not do preliminary
trials on a short-list of 3-5 species before commiting to any one ­ surely
the costs would be worth it.  In the end, my expectation would be that a
Porites species would come first as these are widespread and
phylogenetically and ecologically important (whether the massives, for which
we can have climate records and can relate genotypes to historical
conditions, or the branching ones ­ cylindrica for example - which satisfies
more of the Œlab-rat¹ criteria). Second would come one of the widespread
Acropora head/cushion species with relatively broad environmental tolerance,
or Pocillopora damicornis, the lab-rat par excellence.

As Shashank has noted, Porites do have some pretty interesting syndromes in
the field that would make genetic studies interesting ­ the pink colouration
he mentions, abundance of growth tumours, permanent white patches that
nevertheless grow, generation of mucus sheaths of mysterious function, the
most plastic and Œgentle¹ general bleaching responses that I have seen (both
to SST and sediment), among the broadest temperature acclimation range
worldwide, probably the longest lifespan while also being viable while
small, senescence??, probably the most likely candidate for Œadaptive
bleaching¹ ... there are probably more.  Most other genera/species just seem
to do their thing quietly and consistently.  Porites lutea is the one I
think I¹ve been looking at for years rather than lobata  ...

Now catching up with later responses ­ perhaps Porites cylindrica (or other
branching Porites) might do better, satisfying the distribution and lab-rat
requirements, having the Œinteresting ecology/evolutionary history¹ criteria
above, as well as being workable.

David Obura


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