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Open Access Research article

The transcriptome of the NZ endemic sea urchin Kina (Evechinus chloroticus)

Gareth B Gillard, Daniel J Garama and Chris M Brown*

Author Affiliations

Biochemistry Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:45  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-45

Published: 20 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Sea urchins are studied as model organisms for developmental and systems biology and also produce highly valued food products. Evechinus chloroticus (Kina) is a sea urchin species that is indigenous to New Zealand. It is the type member of the Evechinus genus based on its morphological characteristics. Previous research has focused on identifying physical factors affecting commercial roe quality of E. chloroticus, but there is almost no genetic information available for E. chloroticus. E. chloroticus is the only species in its genus and has yet to be subject to molecular phylogenetic analysis.

Results

In this study we performed a de novo transcriptome assembly of Illumina sequencing data. A total of 123 million 100 base length paired-end reads were generated using RNA-Seq libraries from a range of E. chloroticus tissues from two individuals obtained from Fiordland, New Zealand. The assembly resulted in a set of 75,002 transcripts with an accepted read coverage and length, of which 24,655 transcripts could be functionally annotated using protein similarity. Transcripts could be further annotated with Gene Ontology, KEGG Orthology and InterPro terms. With this sequence data we could perform the first phylogenetic analysis of E. chloroticus to other species of its family using multiple genes. When sequences for the mitochondrial nitrogen dehydrogenase genes were compared, E. chloroticus remained outside of a family level clade, which indicated E. chloroticus is indeed a genetically distinct genus within its family.

Conclusions

This study has produced a large set of E. chloroticus transcripts/proteins along with functional annotations, vastly increasing the amount of genomic data available for this species. This provides a resource for current and future studies on E. chloroticus, either to increase its commercial value, or its use as a model organism. The phylogenetic results provide a basis for further analysis of relationships between E. chloroticus, its family members, and its evolutionary history.