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Phylogenomics of the order Scleractinia (Cnidaria, Anthozoa): relationships between evolution and climate change

Grant number: 14/01332-0
Support type:Research Program on Global Climate Change - Young Investigators
Duration: January 01, 2017 - December 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal Investigator:Marcelo Visentini Kitahara
Grantee:Marcelo Visentini Kitahara
Home Institution: Instituto de Saúde e Sociedade (ISS). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Baixada Santista. Santos , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):17/11615-7 - Phylogenomics of the order Scleractinia (Cnidaria, Anthozoa): relationships between evolution and climate change, BP.MS


Endeavoring to improve our understanding in scleractinian evolution as a lineage and as a system, the present proposal consists of two stages motivated to create and consolidate a research line on RNA/DNA deep sequencing and its usefulness at the Marine Science Department of the São Paulo Federal University (DCMar-UNIFESP). Based on the first azooxanthellate coral transcriptomes (1 species - Madrepora oculata [scleractinian coral bearing the widest worldwide distribution], 18 transcriptomes of which 6 from shallow water specimens [<50], 6 from deep waters [>200]) and 6 specimens subjected to thermal and pH stress) the first stage aims to improve our understanding on the genetic basis from the main reef framework builders, as well as to identify genes potentially related to physiological adaptations to low temperatures, calcification on extreme environments, etc. Also using NGS platforms, the second stage of the project aims to partially sequence the genome from 100 scleractinian species (symbiotic [50] and aposymbiotic [50]) in order to reconstruct a robust evolutionary history of the order, shedding light into its relationships to Corallimorpharia as well as within scleractinian "sub-orders" and families. Furthermore, the phylogenomic reconstruction will be submitted to molecular clock techniques calibrated using the earliest fossils that can be unambiguously assigned to extant clades and whose unique skeletal characters can be unequivocally recognized in fossil coralla, enabling the estimation of every node divergence time. These results are going to be correlated with paleo-environmental data (temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration) with the aspiration to set robust hypothesis uniting shallow and deep-water reefs and climate change. The proposed research line will significantly contribute to the knowledge of the major architects of shallow- and deep-water coral reefs in times not just of major scientific interest, but also intense public and media concern because of the uncertain fate of these ecosystems in the face of ever increasing anthropogenic challenges. (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP about the research grant
Sun coral invades the Brazilian coast owing to its amazing capacity for regeneration 

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
LUZ, B. L. P.; CAPEL, K. C. C.; ZILBERBERG, C.; FLORES, V, A. A.; MIGOTTO, A. E.; KITAHARA, V, M. A polyp from nothing: The extreme regeneration capacity of the Atlantic invasive sun corals Tubastraea coccinea and T-tagusensis (Anthozoa, Scleractinia). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, v. 503, p. 60-65, JUN 2018. Web of Science Citations: 1.
CRUZ CAPEL, KATIA CRISTINA; TOONEN, ROBERT J.; RACHID, CAIO T. C. C.; CREED, JOEL C.; KITAHARA, MARCELO V.; FORSMAN, ZAC; ZILBERBERG, CARLA. Clone wars:asexual reproduction dominates in the invasive range of Tubastraea spp. (Anthozoa: Scleractinia) in the South-Atlantic Ocean. PeerJ, v. 5, OCT 5 2017. Web of Science Citations: 3.

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