Heterologous microarray experiments used to identify the early gene response to heat stress in a coral reef fish


Karin S. Kassahn, Fax: +61 74725 1570; E-mail: karin.kassahn@jcu.edu.au


Coral reef fishes are expected to experience rising sea surface temperatures due to climate change. How well tropical reef fishes will respond to these increased temperatures and which genes are important in the response to elevated temperatures is not known. Microarray technology provides a powerful tool for gene discovery studies, but the development of microarrays for individual species can be expensive and time-consuming. In this study, we tested the suitability of a Danio rerio oligonucleotide microarray for application in a species with few genomic resources, the coral reef fish Pomacentrus moluccensis. Results from a comparative genomic hybridization experiment and direct sequence comparisons indicate that for most genes there is considerable sequence similarity between the two species, suggesting that the D. rerio array is useful for genomic studies of P. moluccensis. We employed this heterologous microarray approach to characterize the early transcriptional response to heat stress in P. moluccensis. A total of 111 gene loci, many of which are involved in protein processing, transcription, and cell growth, showed significant changes in transcript abundance following exposure to elevated temperatures. Changes in transcript abundance were validated for a selection of candidate genes using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. This study demonstrates that heterologous microarrays can be successfully employed to study species for which specific microarrays have not yet been developed, and so have the potential to greatly enhance the utility of microarray technology to the field of environmental and functional genomics.