Degnan lab > Crown of thorns starfish

Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) genome

Acanthaster planci

  • Animal communication in the ocean
  • Genome-guided biocontrol

View genome browser

Acanthaster planci is a highly fecund predator of reef-building corals throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Population outbreaks of this starfish cause substantial loss of coral cover, diminishing the integrity and resilience of reef ecosystems. The genome from a Great Barrier Reef COTS provides insights into conspecific communication that may guide the generation of biocontrol mimetics for use on reefs with COTS outbreaks.

More than 150 transcriptomes from Great Barrier Reef COTS that allow for the analysis of gene activity between sexes of wild COTS across breeding and non-breeding seasons, between multiple discrete tissues and organs, and when starfish are translocated from the wild into captivity.

COTS Browser guide

The COTS Apollo browser allows visualisation of gene models and of mapped RNA-Seq and CEL-Seq2 reads. For general navigation of the Apollo browser, we refer you to the Apollo user guide.

The v1.1 PASA gene models are shown by default on the COTS browser. Below is an example view of the browser with two mapped transcriptomes.

COTS genome browser with two tracks

You can select to view older gene models and specific transcriptomes by clicking on the Select tracks tab in the top left corner. Here you can select specific tracks (transcriptomes and gene model versions) and how you would like to view them. It looks like this:

COTS genome track table view

You can select specific elements in the left column according to your interest. For instance, to view CEL-Seq2 reads mapping to forward and reverse strands of the genome from transcriptomes made from gonads of wild female COTS sampled from Davies Reef (on the Great Barrier Reef), you would select the following elements (in blue):

Selected COTS tracks

You can add or subtract from this list by selecting and deselecting individual elements or groups of elements. If you wish to create a new set of tracks, it is best to refresh the browser to clear your previous views.

Transcriptome track fields

Transcriptomes are grouped and identified by the following fields:


  • Captive - COTS maintained in captivity
  • Wild - COTS sampled in the field

File format - BAM files to show RNA-Seq reads mapped to

  • Both forward and reverse strands of the genome
  • Forward strand only
  • Reverse strand only

Sample and tissue/organ type

  • Coelomocytes (Co)
  • Gonads (Go)
  • Papulae (Pa)
  • Radial nerves (Rn)
  • Sensory tentacles (St)
  • Skin (Sk)
  • Spines (Sp)
  • Tube feet (Tf)


  • Male
  • Female
  • Unknown - animals whose sex could not be determined because of season or age (i.e. non-reproductive)

Location: either captivity or the specific reef of capture.

Time: either specific season of collection, or experimental time point

Status: related to observation at time of field collection relative to other COTS, or type of experimental treatment. See relevant literature for details.

Individual & Sample ID: corresponds to individual COTS and tissues sampled, and matches transcriptome identifiers in NCBI BioProject PRJNA821257.

Name: combined name of specific transcriptome. This is listed to the left of the browser and corresponds to the NCBI BioProject identifier.


We would like to acknowledge the following funding bodies for their support of this project

Australian Research Coucil logo Great barrier reef foundation logo Australian Institute for Marine Science logo