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Construction of a high-resolution genetic linkage map and comparative genome analysis for the reef-building coral Acropora millepora

Shi Wang*, Lingling Zhang, Eli Meyer and Mikhail V Matz

Author Affiliations

Section of Integrative Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C0930, Austin, TX 78712, USA

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Genome Biology 2009, 10:R126  doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-11-r126

Published: 10 November 2009



Worldwide, coral reefs are in decline due to a range of anthropogenic disturbances, and are now also under threat from global climate change. Virtually nothing is currently known about the genetic factors that might determine whether corals adapt to the changing climate or continue to decline. Quantitative genetics studies aiming to identify the adaptively important genomic loci will require a high-resolution genetic linkage map. The phylogenetic position of corals also suggests important applications for a coral genetic map in studies of ancestral metazoan genome architecture.


We constructed a high-resolution genetic linkage map for the reef-building coral Acropora millepora, the first genetic map reported for any coral, or any non-Bilaterian animal. More than 500 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers were developed, most of which are transferable in populations from Orpheus Island and Great Keppel Island. The map contains 429 markers (393 gene-based SNPs and 36 microsatellites) distributed in 14 linkage groups, and spans 1,493 cM with an average marker interval of 3.4 cM. Sex differences in recombination were observed in a few linkage groups, which may be caused by haploid selection. Comparison of the coral map with other metazoan genomes (human, nematode, fly, anemone and placozoan) revealed synteny regions.


Our study develops a framework that will be essential for future studies of adaptation in coral and it also provides an important resource for future genome sequence assembly and for comparative genomics studies on the evolution of metazoan genome structure.