Clownfish larvae exhibit faster growth, higher metabolic rates and altered gene expression under future ocean warming

Moore, Billy, Jolly, Jeffrey, Izumiyama, Michael, Kawai, Erina, Ryu, Taewoo, and Ravasi, Timothy (2023) Clownfish larvae exhibit faster growth, higher metabolic rates and altered gene expression under future ocean warming. Science of the Total Environment, 873. 162296.

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Increasing ocean temperatures have been demonstrated to have a range of negative impacts on coral reef fishes. However, despite a wealth of studies of juvenile/adult reef fish, studies of how early developmental stages respond to ocean warming are limited. As overall population persistence is influenced by the development of early life stages, detailed studies of larval responses to ocean warming are essential. Here, in an aquaria-based study we investigate how temperatures associated with future warming and present-day marine heatwaves (+3 °C) impact the growth, metabolic rate, and transcriptome of 6 discrete developmental stages of clownfish larvae (Amphiprion ocellaris). A total of 6 clutches of larvae were assessed, with 897 larvae imaged, 262 larvae undergoing metabolic testing and 108 larvae subject to transcriptome sequencing. Our results show that larvae reared at +3 °C grow and develop significantly faster and exhibit higher metabolic rates than those in control conditions. Finally, we highlight the molecular mechanisms underpinning the response of larvae from different developmental stages to higher temperatures, with genes associated with metabolism, neurotransmission, heat stress and epigenetic reprogramming differentially expressed at +3 °C. Overall, these results indicate that clownfish development could be altered under future warming, with developmental rate, metabolic rate, and gene expression all affected. Such changes may lead to altered larval dispersal, changes in settlement time and increased energetic costs.

Item ID: 78310
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-1026
Keywords: Climate change, Fish, Marine heatwave, Metabolism, Transcriptomics
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2023 05:59
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 > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
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