• bleaching;
  • cnidarian–dinoflagellate symbiosis;
  • functional genomics;
  • oligoarrays;
  • thermal stress;
  • ultraviolet radiation (UVR)


Among the environmental threats to coral reef health, temperature and ultraviolet increases have been proposed as major agents, although the relative contribution of each in the cnidarian/zooxanthellae symbiosis breakdown has been poorly addressed. We have investigated the transcriptomic response to thermal stress, with and without ultraviolet radiation (UVR), in the symbiotic sea anemone Anemonia viridis. Using the Oligo2K A. viridis microarray, dedicated to genes potentially involved in the symbiosis interaction, we monitored the gene expression profiles after 1, 2 and 5 days of stresses that further lead to massive losses of zooxanthellae. Each stress showed a specific gene expression profile with very little overlap. We showed that the major response to thermal stress is immediate (24 h) but returns to the baseline gene expression profile after 2 days. UVR alone has little effect but potentiates thermal stress, as a second response at 5 days was observed when the two stresses were coupled. Several pathways were highlighted, such as mesoglea loosening, cell death and calcium homeostasis and described in more details. Finally, we showed that the dermatopontin gene family, potentially involved in collagen fibrillogenesis, issued from actinarian-specific duplication events, with one member preferentially expressed in the gastroderm and specifically responding to stress.