La Trobe
1169145_Rodriguez,A_2021.pdf (1.8 MB)

The Significance of Genotypic Diversity in Coral Competitive Interaction: A Transcriptomic Perspective

Download (1.8 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2021-07-13, 04:25 authored by N Andrade Rodriguez, A Moya, R Jones, DJ Miller, Ira CookeIra Cooke
Competitive interactions shape coral assemblages and govern the dynamics of coral ecosystems. Although competition is an ecological concept, the outcomes of competitive interactions are ultimately determined by patterns of gene expression. These patterns are subject to genotypic variation on both sides of any interaction. Such variation is typically treated as “noise”, but it is sometimes possible to identify patterns within it that reveal important hidden factors in an experiment. To incorporate genotypic variation into the investigation of coral competitive interactions, we used RNA-sequencing to study changes in gene expression in a hard coral (Porites cylindrica) resulting from non-contact competition experiment with a soft coral (Lobophytum pauciflorum). Hard coral genotype explained the largest proportion of variation between samples; however, it was also possible to detect gene expression changes in 76 transcripts resulting from interaction with the soft coral. In addition, we found a group of 20 short secreted proteins that were expressed as a coordinated unit in three interacting Porites-Lobophytum pairs. The presence of this secretion response was idiosyncratic in that it could not be predicted based on polyp behaviour, or the genotype of hard or soft coral alone. This study illustrates the significance of individual variation as a determinant of competitive behaviour, and also provides some intriguing glimpses into the molecular mechanisms employed by hard corals competing at a distance.


This study was funded through the Ecuador National Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation (SENESCYT) doctoral scholarship; College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences-SSA funds; and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.


Publication Date



Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution



Article Number

ARTN 659360







Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.