Exposure to global change and microplastics elicits an immune response in an endangered coral

Global change is increasing seawater temperatures and decreasing oceanic pH, driving declines of coral reefs globally. Coral ecosystems are also impacted by local stressors, including microplastics, which are ubiquitous on reefs. While the independent effects of these global and local stressors are well-documented, their interactions remain less explored. Here, we examine the independent and combined effects of global change (ocean warming and acidification) and microplastics exposures on gene expression (GE) and microbial community composition in the endangered coral Acropora cervicornis. Nine genotypes were fragmented and maintained in one of four experimental treatments: 1) ambient conditions (ambient seawater, no microplastics; AMB); 2) microplastics treatment (ambient seawater, microplastics; MP); 3) global change conditions (warm and acidic conditions, no microplastics; OAW); and 4) multistressor treatment (warm and acidic conditions with microplastics; OAW+MP) for 22 days, after which corals were sampled for genome-wide GE profiling and ITS and 16S metabarcoding. Overall A. cervicornis GE responses to all treatments were subtle; however, corals in the multistressor treatment exhibited the strongest GE responses, and genes associated with innate immunity were overrepresented in this treatment, according to gene ontology enrichment analyses. 16S analyses revealed stable microbiomes dominated by the bacterial associate Aquarickettsia, suggesting that these A. cervicornis fragments exhibited remarkably low variability in bacterial community composition. Future work should focus on functional differences across microbiomes, especially Aquarickettsia and viruses, in these responses. Overall, results suggest that local stressors present a unique challenge to endangered coral species under global change.

Bove C. B., Greene K., Sugierski S., Kriefall N. G., Huzar A. K., Hughes A. M., Sharp K., Fogarty N. D. & Davies S. W., 2022. Exposure to global change and microplastics elicits an immune response in an endangered coral. bioRxiv: 506609. doi: 10.1101/2022.09.05.506609. Article.

0 Responses to “Exposure to global change and microplastics elicits an immune response in an endangered coral”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply




  • Reset

Subscribe

OA-ICC Highlights


%d bloggers like this: