Meeting Abstract

P1.28  Tuesday, Jan. 4  Transcriptome-level responses of corals to copper SCHWARZ, Jodi*; JONES, Ross; VENN, Alex; NOYES, Tim; MITCHELMORE, Carys; Vassar College; Australian Institute of Marine Science; Centre Scientifique de Monaco; Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Chesapeake Biological Laboratory joschwarz@vassar.edu

Copper pollution is an increasing concern in the marine environment, as the international ban on tin-based anti-fouling paint several years ago has resulted in the widespread adoption of copper-based paints. Copper in anti-fouling paint leeches from the hulls of boats and accumulates in the water and sediment. The effects of copper on the marine life living in areas of copper accumulation is not well studied. In particular, little is known about the effects of copper on corals, which are notoriously sensitive to the chemical milieu of the water. To begin understanding cellular-level responses of corals to copper, we experimentally exposed the Bermudian coral Montastraea faveolata to dissolved copper and characterized the resulting gene expression responses. We exposed 5 coral colonies to 50ppb copper for 24 hours and then performed gene expression profiling to identify changes in gene expression between the corals exposed to copper and a control group of corals consisting of the same 5 genotypes. We identified 34 genes that were significantly down-regulated and 51 genes that were significantly up-regulated in response to copper. Several of the up-regulated genes code for proteins known to be involved in the oxidative stress response, including 90-kDa heat shock protein, catalase, and peroxidasin homolog-like. A few of the differentially expressed genes are not well characterized with respect to oxidative stress response, but are known to play roles in other disease-like cellular processes, for example the transcription factor ETS1. A number of differentially expressed genes have no previous connection with oxidative stress response, including genes with no homology to any known proteins. These may represent cnidarian-specific responses to oxidative stress.