Hypoxia as a physiological cue and pathological stress for coral larvae

Alderdice, Rachel, Pernice, Mathieu, Cardenas, Anny, Hughes, David J., Harrison, Peter L., Boulotte, Nadine, Chartrand, Katie, Kuehl, Michael, Suggett, David J., and Voolstra, Christian R. (2022) Hypoxia as a physiological cue and pathological stress for coral larvae. Molecular Ecology, 31 (2). pp. 571-587.

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Ocean deoxygenation events are intensifying worldwide and can rapidly drive adult corals into a state of metabolic crisis and bleaching-induced mortality, but whether coral larvae are subject to similar stress remains untested. We experimentally exposed apo-symbiotic coral larvae of Acropora selago to deoxygenation stress with subsequent reoxygenation aligned to their night-day light cycle, and followed their gene expression using RNA-Seq. After 12 h of deoxygenation stress (~2 mg O2/L), coral planulae demonstrated a low expression of HIF-targeted hypoxia response genes concomitant with a significantly high expression of PHD2 (a promoter of HIFα proteasomal degradation), similar to corresponding adult corals. Despite exhibiting a consistent swimming phenotype compared to control samples, the differential gene expression observed in planulae exposed to deoxygenation-reoxygenation suggests a disruption of pathways involved in developmental regulation, mitochondrial activity, lipid metabolism, and O2-sensitive epigenetic regulators. Importantly, we found that treated larvae exhibited a disruption in the expression of conserved HIF-targeted developmental regulators, for example, Homeobox (HOX) genes, corroborating how changes in external oxygen levels can affect animal development. We discuss how the observed deoxygenation responses may be indicative of a possible acclimation response or alternatively may imply negative latent impacts for coral larval fitness.

Item ID: 72215
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-294X
Keywords: coral, development, gene expression profiling, hypoxia, RNA-Seq
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Authors. Molecular Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creat ive Commo ns Attri butio n- NonCo mmercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DP180100074
Research Data: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bioproject/PRJNA723188, https://github.com/reefgenomics/coral_larvae_deoxygenation_RNASeq
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2022 11:17
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180507 Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments @ 100%
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