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Decoding Nemo's Genome

A team of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology-led researchers has sequenced and assembled the genome of the orange clownfish Amphiprion percula.

The orange clownfish, in addition to being known as from the film Finding Nemo, is a model organism used to study the ecology and evolution of reef fish. "For example, the clownfish is a model for studying sex change in fishes," co-author Philip Munday from James Cook University says in a statement. "It has also helped us understand patterns of larval dispersal in reef fishes and it's the first fish species for which it was demonstrated that predator avoidance behavior could be impaired by ocean acidification."

Munday and his KAUST colleagues sequenced A. percula bred at an aquarium facility at James Cook from adult orange clownfish breeding pairs that had been collected from the Great Barrier Reef. Using the Pacific Bioscience long-read platform, they reached 58-fold coverage of the clownfish genome.

As they report in Molecular Ecology Resources, the researchers then used chromatin contact maps to build a chromosome-scale assembly. They generated 908.2-megabase assembly with an estimated 26,597 genes. This resource, KAUST's Timothy Ravasi says, will enable additional clownfish-based studies.

The researchers have also developed the Nemo Genome DB database.