Project description:This experiment assessed the natural gene expression variation present between colonies of the Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Acropora millepora, and additionally explored whether gene expression differed between two different intron haplotypes according to intron 4-500 in a carbonic anhydrase homolog. This study found no correspondence between host genotype and transcriptional state, but found significant intercolony variation, detecting 488 representing unique genes or 17% of the total genes analyzed. Such transcriptomic variation could be the basis upon which natural selection can act. Underlying variation could potentially allow reef corals to respond to different environments. Whether this source of variation and the genetic responses of corals and its symbionts will allow coral reefs to cope to the rapid pace of global change remains unknown. A. millepora colonies were brought to a common garden in the reef lagoon, i.e. under the same environmental conditions. This common garden combined with acclimatization removes environmental effects on the physiology of the coral colonies. For the comparison of the two intron haplotypes, we applied a multiple dye-swap microarray design for the two groups of coral colonies (N=3 per group) defined based on the two genotypes resolved with the use of intron 4-500 (Fig. 1). To also examine the intra-haplotype variation we added a loop design nested to the above multiple dye-swap design, where three samples per colony were included. Colonies 1, 2, and 3 are of intron 4-500 haplotype 1; colonies 4, 5, and 6 are haplotype 2.