Simon Coppard, scholar-in-residence in biology, recently published a research paper titled “Gene expression across tissues, sex, and life stages in the sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla” in the journal Marine Genomics. The article was written with Áki JarlLárusona and Floyd Reeda of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Melissa Pespenic of the University of Vermont.
Coppard and his co-authors conducted research that generated de novo transcriptomes of T. gratilla from gonadal tissue, the neural ring, and pooled tube feet and pedicellariae for two adults, a female and a male, and a cohort of 1000 plutei larvae.
They then compared gene expression profiles between sexes, as well as across functional categories of interest, including the immune system, toxins, genes involved in fertilization, and sensory genes.
The figure highlights levels of shared and different gene expression and shows comparisons between adults and larvae, adult female versus adult male, different adult tissue types, and the number of expressed genes across functional categories.
Tripneustes gratilla is an ecologically and economically important pan-tropical shallow water algal grazer on coral reefs. Coppard said that aquaculture of this species is currently spurring interest into its population biology and genetic makeup.
The transcriptomes published in this article “will greatly facilitate understanding if this species as well as genomic level analyses of emerging sea urchin model systems,” he noted.