Gene expression responses to acute and chronic heat stress in the common reef-building coral Pocillopora verrucosa

Poli, Davide (2015) Gene expression responses to acute and chronic heat stress in the common reef-building coral Pocillopora verrucosa. [Laurea magistrale], Università di Bologna, Corso di Studio in Biologia marina [LM-DM270] - Ravenna, Documento ad accesso riservato.
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Global climate change is impacting coral reefs worldwide, with approximately 19% of reefs being permanently degraded, 15% showing symptoms of imminent collapse, and 20% at risk of becoming critically affected in the next few decades. This alarming level of reef degradation is mainly due to an increase in frequency and intensity of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Recent evidence has called into question whether corals have the capacity to acclimatize or adapt to climate changes and some groups of corals showed inherent physiological tolerance to environmental stressors. The aim of the present study was to evaluate mRNA expression patterns underlying differences in thermal tolerance in specimen of the common reef-building coral Pocillopora verrucosa collected at different locations in Bangka Island waters (North Sulawesi, Indonesia). Part of the experimental work was carried out at the CoralEye Reef Research Outpost (Bangka Island). This includes sampling of corals at selected sites and at different depths (3 and 12 m) as well as their experimental exposure to an increased water temperature under controlled conditions for 3 and 7 days. Levels of mRNAs encoding ATP synthase (ATPs) NADH dehydrogenase (NDH) and a 70kDa Heat Shock Protein (HSP70) were evaluated by quantitative real time PCR. Transcriptional profiles evaluated under field conditions suggested an adaptation to peculiar local environmental conditions in corals collected at different sites and at the low depth. Nevertheless, high–depth collected corals showed a less pronounced site-to-site separation suggesting more homogenous environmental conditions. Exposure to an elevated temperature under controlled conditions pointed out that corals adapted to the high depth are more sensitive to the effects of thermal stress, so that reacted to thermal challenge by significantly over-expressing the selected gene products. Being continuously exposed to fluctuating environmental conditions, low-depth adapted corals are more resilient to the stress stimulus, and indeed showed unaffected or down-regulated mRNA expression profiles. Overall these results highlight that transcriptional profiles of selected genes involved in cellular stress response are modulated by natural seasonal temperature changes in P. verrucosa. Moreover, specimens living in more variable habitats (low-depth) exhibit higher basal HSP70 mRNA levels, possibly enhancing physiological tolerance to environmental stressors.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di laurea (Laurea magistrale)
Autore della tesi
Poli, Davide
Relatore della tesi
Correlatore della tesi
Corso di studio
Ordinamento Cds
Parole chiave
HSP70, Global climate change, coral reef, heat shock, P. verrucosa
Data di discussione della Tesi
20 Marzo 2015

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