"Introgression and ecological opportunity facilitated the diversification and rise to dominance of the reef-building coral genus Acropora” -- Yafei Mao
Internal Seminar: Yafei Mao, Student, Marine Genomics Unit (Satoh Unit)
Title: "Introgression and ecological opportunity facilitated the diversification and rise to dominance of the reef-building coral genus Acropora"
Abstract: Reef building corals provide the structural basis for one of Earth’s most spectacular and diverse—but increasingly threatened—ecosystems. The staghorn corals of the genus Acropora are dominant components of modern reef systems, but the ecological and evolutionary processes associated with its diversification and rise to dominance are unclear. In a broad range of taxa, introgression and ecological opportunity have been shown to promote evolutionary radiations.
Here, we use the genomes of five coral species to examine their roles in the evolution and rise to dominance of Acropora. First, we examine phylogenomic evidence for hybridization, which has long been suspected in corals, and examine the evolutionary rates of introgressed and non-introgressed genes. Second, using demographic analysis, we evaluate evidence that Acropora lineages benefitted from climate-driven mass extinctions that opened up ecological opportunities in the Plio-Pleistocene.
We found evidence for introgression during Acropora diversification, and that the introgressed genes are evolving faster in the donor lineage than non-introgressed genes. Demographic evidence suggests a massive population expansion after the onset of high-amplitude glacial cycles during the Mid-Pleistocene Transition caused a coral mass extinction, followed by a subsequent reduction of population size. This finding indicates that Acropora exploited ecological opportunity opened by a global-scale disturbance. Collectively, these results shed light on the drivers of coral evolution and form a basis for anticipating their responses to ongoing climate changes.
Refreshments will be served afterward. We hope to see you there!
Internal Seminar Organizing Committee:
Marylka Yoe Uusisaari