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Chemical Responses to the Biotic and Abiotic Environment by Early Diverging Metazoans Revealed in the Post-Genomic Age

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beth Okamura, Paul F. Long, Laura D. Mydlarz

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-738
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

King's Authors


For many years methodological constraints limited insights on the molecular biology of non-model organisms. However, the development of various sequencing platforms has led to an explosion of transcriptomic and genomic data on non-model systems. As a consequence the molecular drivers of organismal phenotypes are becoming clearer and the chemicals that animals use to detect and respond to their environments are increasingly being revealed - this latter area inspired our symposium theme. The papers in this volume broadly address this theme by their more specific focus in one of the following general areas: 1) sensory biology and the molecular basis of perception, 2) chemicals deployed to deal with the biotic and abiotic environment, and 3) chemical interactions along the parasite-mutualist continuum. Here we outline and synthesize the content of these papers - an exercise which demonstrates that sophisticated gene repertoires enable early diverging metazoans to encode many of the signaling, sensory, defensive, and offensive capacities typically associated with animals that have complex nervous systems. We then consider opportunities and associated challenges that may delay progress in comparative functional biochemistry, a reinvigorated field that can be expected to rapidly expand with new 'omics data. Future knowledge of chemical adaptations should afford new perspectives on the comparative evolution of chemical mediators.

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