Genetic basis of stony coral biomineralization: History, trends and future prospects

Jeana L. Drake, Neta Varsano, Tali Mass

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite their simple body plan, stony corals (order Scleractinia, phylum Cnidaria) can produce massive and complex exoskeletal structures in shallow, tropical and subtropical regions of Earth's oceans. The species-specific macromorphologies of their aragonite skeletons suggest a highly coordinated biomineralization process that is rooted in their genomes, and which has persisted across major climatic shifts over the past 400 + million years. The mechanisms by which stony corals produce their skeletons has been the subject of interest for at least the last 160 years, and the pace of understanding the process has increased dramatically in the past decade since the sequencing of the first coral genome in 2011. In this review, we detail what is known to date about the genetic basis of the stony coral biomineralization process, with a focus on advances in the last several years as well as ways that physical and chemical tools can be combined with genetics, and then propose next steps forward for the coming decade.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107782
Pages (from-to)107782
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Aragonite
  • Genomic
  • Highly acidic proteins
  • Proteomic
  • Skeletal organic matrix

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology


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