Development of a genetic method to assess bleaching tolerance in corals (MTSRF Project 2.5i.2c)

Next generation DNA sequencing was used to scan a large proportion of the transcribed coding DNA in Acropora millepora for polymorphisms. Transcribed coding DNA (messenger RNA - mRNA) was extracted from 8 colonies sampled at three thermally distinct habitats along the GBR (Wilke Island Reef in Princess Charlotte Bay, Nelly Bay at Magnetic Island, and Miall Island in the Keppel Islands). The mRNA extractions from each population were pooled and translated back to the complementary DNA (cDNA), which was sequenced using 454 pyrosequencing by the Australian Genome Research Facility. This transcriptome consists of over 500 000 DNA sequences that are assembled into 55 000 contigs, of which over 11 000 aligned to known genes (8 000 unique genes). A database was generated consisting of almost 90 000 SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms/gene variants). 26 SNPs from 16 genes were investigated, from which one SNP from each of 15 genes were deemed suitable for large scale genotyping and a genotyping assay was developed. 20 individuals from 17 reefs throughout the Great Barrier Reef were genotyped. Four from the 15 show a geographic pattern. The relative frequency of each of the nucleotides was measured in each SNP (A, T, C, G).

To investigate the variation in gene coding regions and their frequency distributions along a themal gradient on the Great Barrier Reef with the aim of using such genes as markers to map thermal tolerance across the Great Barrier Reef. To describe DNA sequences for genes that are likely to be involved in thermal stress responses. To describe gene variants and their potential function in the coral host. To map allele frequencies of these genes at select locations on the GBR.

Reef locations: Boulton Reef, Calder Island, Darley Reef, Emily, Goble Reef, High Peak Island, Holbourne Island, Night Island, North Keppel, Reef 20-344, Reef 21-121, Ross Reef, Sudbury Reef (I and II), SW Pelorus, Wilkie Island, Wallace Island. 15 selected genes: Argenine Kinase, Beta Gamma Crystalin, Coatomer, Complete Component C3, Feritin, Galaxin, Gene of unknown function, Hsp60, Ligand of number X2, Mn Superoxide Dismutase, Thioredoxin, Transcription factor 1_1, Transcription factor 1_5, Ubiquitin like protein. The image is a portayal of one of the gene distributions.

Principal Investigator
Souter, Petra B, Dr
van Oppen, Madeleine JH, Dr Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Point Of Contact
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)

Data collected from 01 Feb 2007

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Tags: Biological Classification - Animals/Invertebrates - Cnidarians , Anthozoans/Hexacorals , Hard Or Stony Corals | Biosphere - Ecological Dynamics - Community Dynamics , Biodiversity Functions | Biosphere - Ecological Dynamics - Species/Population Interactions , Evolutionary Adaptation | Oceans - Coastal Processes - Coral Reefs | Oceans - Ocean Temperature - Sea Surface Temperature | Acropora millepora | Conservation | DNA markers | Population genomics | SNPs | Population connectivity | Climate change