Por Mauro Rebelo

Draft genome of the invasive coral Tubastraea sp.

WhatsApp Image 2020-10-28 at 23.39.13 (6)

Corals have been attracting huge attention due to the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on reef formation and resilience. Nevertheless, some coral species have been spreading very fast, replacing native species and affecting local biodiversity. Despite some focal efforts to understand the biology of these organisms, they remain understudied at the molecular level. This knowledge gap hinders the development of cost-effective strategies for management of invasive species. Here, we present the first Tubastraea sp. genome in one of the most comprehensive biological studies of a coral, that includes morphology, flow cytometry, karyotyping, transcriptomics, genomics, and phylogeny. The Tubastraea sp. genome is organized in 23 chromosome pairs and has 1.4 Gb making it the largest coral and Cnidaria genome sequenced to date. The hybrid assembly using short and long-reads has an N50 of 180,044 bp, 12,320 contigs and high completeness estimated as 91.6% of BUSCO complete genes. We inferred that almost half of the genome consists of repetitive elements, mostly interspersed repeats. Gene content was estimated as about 94,000, a high number that warrants deeper scrutiny. The Tubastraea sp. genome is a fundamental study which promises to provide insights not only about the genetic basis for the extreme invasiveness of this particular coral species, but to understand the adaptation flaws of some reef corals in the face of anthropic-induced environmental disturbances. We expect the data generated in this study will foster the development of efficient technologies for the management of coral species, whether invasive or threatened.

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