[Coral-List] New preprint: gene expression biomarkers for coral restoration

John Parkinson parkinjo at oregonstate.edu
Fri Aug 18 16:19:02 EDT 2017

Hi all,

We have a new open-access preprint online today focused on developing gene
expression biomarkers for the threatened Caribbean coral Acropora
cervicornis.  We incorporate transcription, thermal stress responses,
seasonality, Symbiodinium community composition, colony performance
metrics, and restoration nurseries—fun for everyone!

If you have any trouble accessing the manuscript below, please send me an
email and I’ll forward a copy.  Thank you.

John Parkinson

Oregon State University

Link: https://peerj.com/preprints/3158/

Title: Extensive transcriptional variation poses a challenge to thermal
stress biomarker development for endangered corals

Authors: Parkinson JE, Bartels E, Devlin-Durante MK, Lustic C, Nedimyer K,
Schopmeyer S, Lirman D, LaJeunesse TC, Baums IB

Abstract: As climate changes, sea surface temperature anomalies that
negatively impact coral reef organisms continue to increase in frequency
and intensity. Yet, despite widespread coral mortality, genetic diversity
remains high even in those coral species listed as threatened. While this
is good news in many ways it presents a challenge for the development of
biomarkers that can identify resilient or vulnerable genotypes. Taking
advantage of three coral restoration nurseries in Florida that serve as
long-term common garden experiments, we exposed over thirty genetically
distinct Acropora cervicornis colonies to hot and cold temperature shocks
seasonally and measured pooled gene expression responses using RNAseq.
Targeting a subset of twenty genes, we designed a high-throughput qPCR
array to quantify expression in all individuals separately under each
treatment with the goal of identifying thermal stress biomarkers. We
observed extensive transcriptional variation in the population, suggesting
abundant raw material is available for adaptation via natural selection.
However, this high variation made it difficult to correlate gene expression
changes with colony performance metrics such as growth, mortality, and
bleaching susceptibility. Nevertheless, we identified several promising
biomarkers for acute thermal stress that may improve coral restoration and
climate change mitigation efforts in the future.

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