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Maternal effects in gene expression of interspecific coral hybrids
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  • Wing Yan Chan,
  • Jessica Chung,
  • Lesa Peplow,
  • Ary Hoffmann,
  • Madeleine van Oppen
Wing Yan Chan
Australian Institute of Marine Science
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Jessica Chung
The University of Melbourne Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute
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Lesa Peplow
Australian Institute of Marine Science
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Ary Hoffmann
The University of Melbourne Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute
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Madeleine van Oppen
Australian Institute of Marine Science
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Abstract

Maternal effects have been well documented for offspring morphology and life history traits in plants and terrestrial animals, yet little is known about maternal effects in corals. Further, few studies have explored maternal effects in gene expression. In a previous study, F1 interspecific hybrid and purebred larvae of the coral species Acropora tenuis and A. loripes were settled and exposed to ambient or elevated temperature and pCO2 conditions for seven months. At this stage, the hybrid coral recruits from both ocean conditions exhibited strong maternal effects in several fitness traits. We conducted RNA-sequencing on samples from the same experiment and showed that gene expression of the hybrid Acropora also showed clear maternal effects. Only 40 genes were differentially expressed between hybrids and their maternal progenitor. In contrast, ~2000 differentially expressed genes were observed between hybrids and their paternal progenitors, and between the reciprocal F1 hybrids. These results indicate that maternal effects in coral gene expression can be long-lasting. Unlike findings from most short-term stress experiments in corals, no genes were differentially expressed in the hybrid nor purebred offspring after seven months of exposure to elevated temperature and pCO2 conditions.