Molecular basis of parental contributions to the behavioural tolerance of elevated pCO in a coral reef fish



Monroe, Alison
Schunter, Celia Marei
Welch, Megan J.
Munday, Philip L.
Ravasi, Timothy

KAUST Department
Marine Science Program
Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering (BESE) Division

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Knowledge of adaptive potential is crucial to predicting the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine organisms. In the spiny damselfish, , individual variation in behavioural tolerance to elevated pCO has been observed and is associated with offspring gene expression patterns in the brain. However, the maternal and paternal contributions of this variation are unknown. To investigate parental influence of behavioural pCO tolerance, we crossed pCO-tolerant fathers with pCO-sensitive mothers and vice versa, reared their offspring at control and elevated pCO levels, and compared the juveniles' brain transcriptional programme. We identified a large influence of parental phenotype on expression patterns of offspring, irrespective of environmental conditions. Circadian rhythm genes, associated with a tolerant parental phenotype, were uniquely expressed in tolerant mother offspring, while tolerant fathers had a greater role in expression of genes associated with histone binding. Expression changes in genes associated with neural plasticity were identified in both offspring types: the maternal line had a greater effect on genes related to neuron growth while paternal influence impacted the expression of synaptic development genes. Our results confirm cellular mechanisms involved in responses to varying lengths of OA exposure, while highlighting the parental phenotype's influence on offspring molecular phenotype.

Monroe, A. A., Schunter, C., Welch, M. J., Munday, P. L., & Ravasi, T. (2021). Molecular basis of parental contributions to the behavioural tolerance of elevated pCO 2 in a coral reef fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1964). doi:10.1098/rspb.2021.1931

The authors acknowledge the support of the Office of Competitive Research Funds OSR-2015-CRG4–2541 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (T.R. and P.L.M.), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (P.L.M).
We would like to thank the KAUST Bioscience Core Lab, the KAUST integrative systems lab, the Marine Climate Change Unit at OIST, and the Marine and Aquaculture Research Facilities Unit at JCU for their help and support. We also thank R. Lehman for his help with bioinformatic analysis.

The Royal Society

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences


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