Red coral


The red coral, Corallium rubrum, is an iconic species of the Mediterranean seabed. Its ecological and economic importance explains the genetic studies carried out on this species. Several mortality events linked to positive thermal anomalies show that it is affected by ongoing climate change. It is therefore important to develop functional genetic studies in this species in order to study its response to environmental stresses.

In addition, red coral is part of the Octocorallia, a group still little studied in terms of functional genetics: it is therefore an interesting model for comparative and evolutionary approaches within metazoans. Red coral is also an excellent model for studying biomineralization (dynamic and physiological process by which an organism transforms ions in solution into a composite structure, the biomineral). The red coral has the characteristic of producing two different biominerals, whose structure and size are very distinct: an axial skeleton and scattered elements called sclerites. Transcriptomic tools coupled with biochemical approaches allows the characterization of the genes involved in biomineralization and comparative intra-/inter-species studies to be carried out.

  • Name : Corallium rubrum
  • Phylogenetic classification: Cnidarian, octocoralliar, family Coralliidae
  • Transcriptome being sequenced
    (Pre-print available on HAL:
The sexes are separated and fertilization is internal. The larvae are released by the female colonies and ensure the dispersal of the species.
  • Transcriptome being sequenced
  • Various molecular markers are available (microsatellites, nuclear or mitochondrial genes) to analyze genetic diversity or gene expression by real-time PCR
  • Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie marine et continentale (IMBE) - UMR CNRS7263 IRD237 AMU UAPV - Equipe IDEA
  • Marseille
  • Articles

Population genetics: Several studies have been conducted using microsatellite markers and introns. They highlight the important genetic structuring of this species.


« Phylogeography of the red coral (Corallium rubrum): inferences on the evolutionary history of a temperate gorgonian. », Aurelle et. al., Genetica, 2011

« Fine-scale genetic structure and inferences on population biology in the threatened Mediterranean red coral, Corallium rubrum », Ledoux et. al., Molecular Ecology, 2010

« Genetic survey of shallow populations of the Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus, 1758)): new insights into evolutionary processes shaping current nuclear diversity and implications for conservation », Ledoux et. al., Molecular Ecology, 2010

« Evaluation of the utility of COI and ITS markers as tools for population genetic studies of temperate gorgonians », Calderón et. al., Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 2006

Biomineralization: Several studies have been conducted to characterize the axial skeleton and the sclerites of Corallium rubrum, showing that the organic molecules of these two biominerals have both similarities and differences.

« Specific organic matrix characteristics in skeletons of Corallium species », Debreuil et. al., Marine Biology, 2011

« Comparative analysis of the soluble organic matrix of axial skeleton and sclerites of Corallium rubrum: Insights for biomineralization », Debreuil et. al., Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2011

« Determination of canthaxanthin in the red coral (Corallium rubrum) from Marseille by HPLC combined with UV and MS detection », Cvejic et. al., Marine Biology, 2007

« Dynamics of calcification in the Mediterranean red coral, Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus) (Cnidaria, Octocorallia) », Allemand et Bénazet-Tambutté, Journal of Experimental Zoology, 1996

« Skeleton formation in Mediterranean red coral Corallium rubrum », Grillo et. al., Marine Biology, 1993

« The biology and skeletogenesis of the Mediterranean Red coral. A review », Allemand, Precious Corals and Octocorals Research, 1993

« Biocalcification mechanism in gorgonians. 45Ca uptake and deposition by the mediterranean red coral Corallium rubrum », Allemand et Grillo, Journal of Experimental Zoology, 1992

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