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J Venom Res
The Eur J Extracellular Vesicles
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Horizontal transfer of a natterin-like toxin encoding gene within the holobiont of the reef building coral Acropora digitifera (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia) and across multiple animal linages

Research Report

J Venom Res 
(2020), Vol 10, 07-12

Published online: 17 April 2020

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Ranko Gacesa1, Julia Yun-hsuan Hung2, David G Bourne2,3 and Paul F Long1,4,*

1School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King’s College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, United Kingdom

2College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia

3Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia

4Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 580, B16, 05508-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

*Correspondence to: Paul Long, E-mail: paul.long@kcl.ac.uk,Tel/fax: 00 44 (0)20 7848 4842

Received: 18 March 2020 | Revised: 25 March 2020 | Accepted: 01 April 2020

© Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article, published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0). This license permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction of this article, provided the original work is appropriately acknowledged, with correct citation details.


Phylogenetic evidence is provided for horizontal transfer of a natterin-like toxin encoding gene from fungi into the genome of the coral Acropora digitifera.  Sequencing analysis of the coral tissues supported that a fungal taxon predicted to be the most likely gene donor was represented in the coral microbiome. Further bioinformatics data suggested widespread recruitment of the natterin-like gene into venomous terrestrial invertebrates, and repositioning of this gene to non-toxic functions in non-venomous teleost fish.

KEYWORDS: Horizontal gene transfer, Cnidaria, venom

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