Journal article

Morphological stasis masks ecologically divergent coral species on tropical reefs

Pim Bongaerts, Ira R Cooke, Hua Ying, Dagmar Wels, Stijn den Haan, Alejandra Hernandez-Agreda, Christopher A Brunner, Sophie Dove, Norbert Englebert, Gal Eyal, Sylvain Foret, Mila Grinblat, Kyra B Hay, Saki Harii, David C Hayward, Yu Lin, Mihaljevi C Morana, Aurelie Moya, Paul Muir, Frederic Sinniger Show all



Coral reefs are the epitome of species diversity, yet the number of described scleractinian coral species, the framework-builders of coral reefs, remains moderate by comparison. DNA sequencing studies are rapidly challenging this notion by exposing a wealth of undescribed diversity, but the evolutionary and ecological significance of this diversity remains largely unclear. Here, we present an annotated genome for one of the most ubiquitous corals in the Indo-Pacific (Pachyseris speciosa) and uncover, through a comprehensive genomic and phenotypic assessment, that it comprises morphologically indistinguishable but ecologically divergent lineages. Demographic modeling based on whole-genome res..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2016-2018)

Awarded by Mitsubishi Foundation

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank David Whillas, Jaap Barendrecht, David Harris, Sara Naylor, and Annamieke van den Heuvel for support in the field or in the lab, as well as Underwater Earth, The Ocean Agency, and crews from Reef Connections, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, SY Ethereal, and the Waitt Foundation. The authors acknowledge the Reef Future Genomics (ReFuGe) 2020 Consortium, of which this study was part, as organized by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. This project was supported (in chronological order) by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey (2012-2014; funded by the XL Catlin Group in partnership with Underwater Earth and The University of Queensland), an Accelerate Partnerships grant from the Department of Science Information Technology Innovation and the Arts of the Queensland Government (2014-2016), an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2016-2018; DE160101433 awarded to P.B.), and the Hope for Reefs Initiative at the California Academy of Sciences (2018-2020). Additional support was received from the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at The University of Queensland (awarded to O.H.-G.) and through a Natural Sciences grant no. 24133 from the Mitsubishi Foundation (awarded to S.H.). Substantial sea time was generously provided by theWaitt Foundation and the Joy Foundation. The genome assembly and whole-genome sequencing was funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation ``Resilient Coral Reefs Successfully Adapting to Climate Change'' program in collaboration with the Australian Government, Bioplatforms Australia through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, Rio Tinto, and a family foundation.