Genomic characterization of the evolutionary potential of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis facing ocean acidification.

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2017-01-12

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Abstract

Ocean acidification (OA) is increasing due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and poses a threat to marine species and communities worldwide. To better project the effects of acidification on organisms' health and persistence an understanding is needed of (1) the mechanisms underlying developmental and physiological tolerance, and (2) the potential populations have for rapid evolutionary adaptation. This is especially challenging in non-model species where targeted assays of metabolism and stress physiology may not be available or economical for large-scale assessments of genetic constraints. We used mRNA sequencing and a quantitative genetics breeding design to study mechanisms underlying genetic variability and tolerance to decreased seawater pH (-0.4 pH units) in larvae of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis We used a gene ontology-based approach to integrate expression profiles into indirect measures of cellular and biochemical traits underlying variation in larval performance (i.e., growth rates). Molecular responses to OA were complex, involving changes to several functions such as growth rates, cell division, metabolism, and immune activities. Surprisingly, the magnitude of pH effects on molecular traits tended to be small relative to variation attributable to segregating functional genetic variation in this species. We discuss how the application of transcriptomics and quantitative genetics approaches across diverse species can enrich our understanding of the biological impacts of climate change.

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10.1093/gbe/evw272

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Runcie, Daniel E, Narimane Dorey, David A Garfield, Meike Stumpp, Sam Dupont and Gregory A Wray (2017). Genomic characterization of the evolutionary potential of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis facing ocean acidification. Genome Biol Evol. 10.1093/gbe/evw272 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13705.

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Wray

Gregory Allan Wray

Professor of Biology

I study the evolution of genes and genomes with the broad aim of understanding the origins of biological diversity. My approach focuses on changes in the expression of genes using both empirical and computational approaches and spans scales of biological organization from single nucleotides through gene networks to entire genomes. At the finer end of this spectrum of scale, I am focusing on understanding the functional consequences and fitness components of specific genetic variants within regulatory sequences of several genes associated with ecologically relevant traits. At the other end of the scale, I am developing molecular and analytical methods to detect changes in gene function throughout entire genomes, including statistical frameworks for detecting natural selection on regulatory elements and empirical approaches to identify functional variation in transcriptional regulation. At intermediate scales, I am investigating functional variation within a dense gene network in the context of wild populations and natural perturbations. My research leverages the advantages of several different model systems, but primarily focuses on sea urchins and primates (including humans).


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