Differential gene expression indicates modulated responses to chronic and intermittent hypoxia in corallivorous fireworms (Hermodice carunculata). Academic Article uri icon


  • Climate models predict an increase in extent, frequency, and duration of marine hypoxia events in the twenty first century. A better understanding of organismal responses to hypoxia in individual species is a crucial step for predicting ecosystem responses. We experimentally subjected a common invertebrate, the bearded fireworm (Hermodice carunculata) to two levels of chronic hypoxia and, in a separate experiment, to intermittent hypoxia. We found components of the conserved hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway and show a modulated response to hypoxia depending on the severity of hypoxic stress: under mild hypoxia, only the HIF-1 subunit is upregulated, while expression of the other subunit, aryl hydrocarbon nuclear translator, only increases significantly at more severe hypoxia levels. The chronic trials revealed down-regulation of genes related to cell adhesion, transport, development and heme-binding, and up-regulation of genes related to glycolysis, oxygen binding, cell differentiation, digestive and reproductive function. The intermittent hypoxia trials revealed an upregulation of heme transporter activity during hypoxia, and our time series analysis characterized nine clusters of genes with similar expression patterns. Our findings suggest that H. carunculata is likely to tolerate, and be resilient to, predicted future hypoxia conditions.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Grimes, C. J., Petersen, L. H., & Schulze, A.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Grimes, CJ||Petersen, LH||Schulze, A

publication date

  • May 2021