Stony corals are colonial cnidarians that sustain the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on Earth: coral reefs. Despite their ecological importance, little is known about the cell types and molecular pathways that underpin the biology of reef-building corals. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, we define over 40 cell types across the life cycle of Stylophora pistillata. We discover specialized immune cells, and we uncover the developmental gene expression dynamics of calcium-carbonate skeleton formation. By simultaneously measuring the transcriptomes of coral cells and the algae within them, we characterize the metabolic programs involved in symbiosis in both partners. We also trace the evolution of these coral cell specializations by phylogenetic integration of multiple cnidarian cell type atlases. Overall, this study reveals the molecular and cellular basis of stony coral biology.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Coral Reefs
- Sequence Analysis, RNA/methods
- Single-Cell Analysis/methods