Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles

Multiple Facets of Marine Invertebrate Conservation Genomics

Jose Lopez, Nova Southeastern University
Bishoy Kamel, University of New Mexico
Monica Medina, The Pennsylvania State University
Timothy Collins, Florida International University
Iliana B. Baums, Pennsylvania State University

©Annual Reviews 2018


Conservation genomics aims to preserve the viability of populations and the biodiversity of living organisms. Invertebrate organisms represent 95% of animal biodiversity; however, few genomic resources currently exist for the group. The subset of marine invertebrates includes the most ancient metazoan lineages and possesses codes for unique gene products and possible keys to adaptation. The benefits of supporting invertebrate conservation genomics research (e.g., likely discovery of novel genes, protein regulatory mechanisms, genomic innovations, and transposable elements) outweigh the various hurdles (rare, small, or polymorphic starting materials). Here we review best conservation genomics practices in the laboratory and in silico when applied to marine invertebrates and also showcase unique features in several case studies of acroporid corals, crown-of-thorns starfish, apple snails, and abalone. Marine conservation genomics should also address how diversity can lead to unique marine innovations, the impact of deleterious variation, and how genomic monitoring and profiling could positively affect broader conservation goals (e.g., value of baseline data for in situ/ex situ genomic stocks).