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Nascent Australian Coral Genome Project Seeks Funding

NEW YORK, Aug. 3 (GenomeWeb News) - Researchers seeking to map the genome of Acropora coral in a coral genome project are seeking public funding for their project, according to a recent report.

To complete their study the researchers said they are appealing to the Australian Genome Alliance, a nonprofit organization, to lobby on their behalf for federal funding, the Australian Broadcasting Company's Science Online journal reported last week.

Led by researchers at  James   CookUniversity  and  AustralianNationalUniversity , the budding project has discovered that Acropora coral may have a genome that rivals the human genome in number of genes. The scientists said their finding show that coral is far more complex than previously thought.

"The classical thought was that because you and I are more complex than a jellyfish, we had evolved more genes," Eldon Ball of ANU said. "[It] looks like it isn't the case."

Ball added that the study could be useful in explaining problems affecting coral reefs, such as coral bleaching, when the symbiotic algae that inhabit the reefs suddenly detach themselves from their host organism.

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