OIST’s researchers establish technique to identify individual coral by DNA profiling

May 24, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

Chuya Shinzato and his research team at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) announced on May 23 that they had established a technique to identify individual Acropora coral through DNA testing. The Acropora is the world’s most common coral with 113 known species.

The technique enables scientists to study genetic diversity and connectivity between the coral populations. This will help conserve coral reef ecosystems in the world. Shinzato said, “We would like to make practical use of this technique.”

Researchers have not previously known about the genetic connections between corals. For instance, they now know that some coral share genes coming from the same individual.

Shinzato and his team developed 14 microsatellite DNA markers to identify individuals. About 30 percent of all coral species in the world are found in the seas around Okinawa. They said the technique they have developed would enable an in increase genetic diversity in coral plantation, which would help coral survive through environmental changes. Reefs with a diversity of coral are more robust to environmental changes than those composed of only few individual corals.

(English translation by T&CT, Hitomi Shinzato)

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