The role and risks of selective adaptation in extreme coral habitats

Federica Scucchia, Paul Zaslansky, Chloë Boote, Annabelle Doheny, Tali Mass, Emma F. Camp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The alarming rate of climate change demands new management strategies to protect coral reefs. Environments such as mangrove lagoons, characterized by extreme variations in multiple abiotic factors, are viewed as potential sources of stress-tolerant corals for strategies such as assisted evolution and coral propagation. However, biological trade-offs for adaptation to such extremes are poorly known. Here, we investigate the reef-building coral Porites lutea thriving in both mangrove and reef sites and show that stress-tolerance comes with compromises in genetic and energetic mechanisms and skeletal characteristics. We observe reduced genetic diversity and gene expression variability in mangrove corals, a disadvantage under future harsher selective pressure. We find reduced density, thickness and higher porosity in coral skeletons from mangroves, symptoms of metabolic energy redirection to stress response functions. These findings demonstrate the need for caution when utilizing stress-tolerant corals in human interventions, as current survival in extremes may compromise future competitive fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4475
JournalNature Communications
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Maya Lazar for guidance with RNA-seq data. We thank the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie for the allocation of synchrotron radiation beamtime on BAMline, specifically Henning Markötter and Michael Sintschuk for beamtime setup help. Thanks are extended to Sage Fitzgerlad for her assistance with SEM imaging at UTS. Fieldwork and sequencing costs were funded by the University of Technology Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DE190100142) awarded to E.F.C. The contribution of C.B. and A.D. to the project was funded by a Rolex Award for Enterprise (to E.F.C). The contribution of F.S., P.Z., and T.M. was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement no. 755876 to T.M.).

Funding Information:
We thank Maya Lazar for guidance with RNA-seq data. We thank the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie for the allocation of synchrotron radiation beamtime on BAMline, specifically Henning Markötter and Michael Sintschuk for beamtime setup help. Thanks are extended to Sage Fitzgerlad for her assistance with SEM imaging at UTS. Fieldwork and sequencing costs were funded by the University of Technology Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DE190100142) awarded to E.F.C. The contribution of C.B. and A.D. to the project was funded by a Rolex Award for Enterprise (to E.F.C). The contribution of F.S., P.Z., and T.M. was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement no. 755876 to T.M.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)

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