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Logo of bmcgenoBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Genomics
 
BMC Genomics. 2009; 10: 627.
Published online Dec 23, 2009. doi:  10.1186/1471-2164-10-627
PMCID: PMC2807443
Effects of temperature on gene expression in embryos of the coral Montastraea faveolata
Christian R Voolstra,#1,2 Julia Schnetzer,#2 Leonid Peshkin,3 Carly J Randall,4 Alina M Szmant,4 and Mónica Medinacorresponding author2
1Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
2School of Natural Sciences, University of California, Merced, 5200 North Lake Road Merced, CA 95343, USA
3Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Ave, W Alperts #536, Boston, MA 02115, USA
4Center for Marine Science, University North Carolina Wilmington, 5600 Marvin K Moss Lane, Wilmington, NC 28409, USA
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
#Contributed equally.
Christian R Voolstra: christian.voolstra/at/kaust.edu.sa; Julia Schnetzer: jschnetzer/at/gmail.com; Leonid Peshkin: pesha/at/hms.harvard.edu; Carly J Randall: cjr2021/at/uncw.edu; Alina M Szmant: szmanta/at/uncw.edu; Mónica Medina: mmedina/at/ucmerced.edu
Received April 2, 2009; Accepted December 23, 2009.
Abstract
Background
Coral reefs are expected to be severely impacted by rising seawater temperatures associated with climate change. This study used cDNA microarrays to investigate transcriptional effects of thermal stress in embryos of the coral Montastraea faveolata. Embryos were exposed to 27.5°C, 29.0°C, and 31.5°C directly after fertilization. Differences in gene expression were measured after 12 and 48 hours.
Results
Analysis of differentially expressed genes indicated that increased temperatures may lead to oxidative stress, apoptosis, and a structural reconfiguration of the cytoskeletal network. Metabolic processes were downregulated, and the action of histones and zinc finger-containing proteins may have played a role in the long-term regulation upon heat stress.
Conclusions
Embryos responded differently depending on exposure time and temperature level. Embryos showed expression of stress-related genes already at a temperature of 29.0°C, but seemed to be able to counteract the initial response over time. By contrast, embryos at 31.5°C displayed continuous expression of stress genes. The genes that played a role in the response to elevated temperatures consisted of both highly conserved and coral-specific genes. These genes might serve as a basis for research into coral-specific adaptations to stress responses and global climate change.
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