Transcriptomic analysis reveals protein homeostasis breakdown in the coral Acropora millepora during hypo-saline stress

Aguilar, Catalina, Raina, Jean-Baptiste, Fôret, Sylvain, Hayward, David C., Lapeyre, Bruno, Bourne, David G., and Miller, David J. (2019) Transcriptomic analysis reveals protein homeostasis breakdown in the coral Acropora millepora during hypo-saline stress. BMC Genomics, 20. 148.

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Background: Coral reefs can experience salinity fluctuations due to rainfall and runoff; these events can have major impacts on the corals and lead to bleaching and mortality. On the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), low salinity events, which occur during summer seasons and can involve salinity dropping ~ 10 PSU correlate with declines in coral cover, and these events are predicted to increase in frequency and severity under future climate change scenarios. In other marine invertebrates, exposure to low salinity causes increased expression of genes involved in proteolysis, responses to oxidative stress, and membrane transport, but the effects that changes in salinity have on corals have so far received only limited attention. To better understand the coral response to hypo-osmotic stress, here we investigated the transcriptomic response of the coral Acropora millepora in both adult and juvenile life stages to acute (1 h) and more prolonged (24 h) exposure to low salinity.

Results: Differential gene expression analysis revealed the involvement of both common and specific response mechanisms in Acropora. The general response to environmental stressors included up-regulation of genes involved in the mitigation of macromolecular and oxidative damage, while up-regulation of genes involved in amino acid metabolism and transport represent specific responses to salinity stress.

Conclusions: This study is the first comprehensive transcriptomic analysis of the coral response to low salinity stress and provides important insights into the likely consequences of heavy rainfall and runoff events on coral reefs.

Item ID: 57425
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2164
Keywords: coral, transcriptomics, salinity stress, endoplasmic reticulum, amino acid metabolism
Copyright Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2019 07:48
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310505 Gene expression (incl. microarray and other genome-wide approaches) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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