Molecular stress responses in marine intertebrates


Celeste Valdivia


April 30, 2023

Two weeks ago members of our FISH 600 reading group were asked to select papers to present that cited the following paper:


Gleason, L. U., and R. S. Burton. 2015. RNA-seq reveals regional differences in transcriptome response to heat stress in the marine snail Chlorostoma funebralis. Molecular Ecology 24:610–627.

Discussion Themes

One of the central themes in our groups discussion encompassed the intra-species differences in molecular stress response across various marine invertebrate species. In regards to this theme, we particularly touched upon the transcriptomic responses in stress-tolerant vs stress-susceptible organisms of the same species to environmentally relevant stressors including extreme low salinity and elevation in temperature. The term “frontloading” used in Gleason and Burton 2015 is used to describe the baseline expression of genes that improve an organisms ability to physiologically tolerate extreme periods of stress.

This theme of frontloading and resilience across sub-populations of marine invertebrates differs slightly from the paper I selected that also cited the Gleason and Burton 2015 paper:


Morin, M., M. Jönsson, C. K. Wang, D. J. Craik, S. M. Degnan, and B. M. Degnan. 2023. Captivity induces a sweeping and sustained genomic response in a starfish. Molecular Ecology:mec.16947.

Here the authors report the inability of a species of starfish to acclimate to the stress that comes with removal from their native environment and introduction into captivity by describing the distinct differences in the transcriptome of wild versus captive individuals. As they evaluated the transcriptomic profiles of wild and formerly-wild starfish, it can be said that the molecular marks of chronic stress expressed by the captive starfish contrast and thus highlight the theme of stress-response frontloading. Furthermore, the paper I selected also serves as evidence for the emphasis in integrating robust methods in research investigating differential gene expression.