Scleractinian corals are of fundamental ecological significance in tropical and sub-tropical shallow water. This ecological success is attributed to their ability of formation of obligate endosymbioses with dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium. Nevertheless, approximately one-third of reef-building coral species are critically endangered and the remainder are under threat from the effects of climate change and local impacts. Molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in stress responses and the establishment and collapse of the symbiosis are therefore an urgent subject of research. Metazoans possess large numbers of genes that participate in response to environmental stressors, and chemical defense genes included P450 and other oxidases, various conjugating enzymes, ATP-dependent efflux transporters, oxidative detoxification proteins, as well as transcription factors that regulate these genes. Here we searched those genes in recently decoded the coral Acropora digitifera genome. We found that this genome contains a set of chemical defense genes in numbers comparable with other cnidarians and metazoans and that there are some lineagespecific gene family expansions in the coral genome. These provide information for future research into molecular mechanisms involved in coral stress responses.
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Vol. 29 • No. 8