Deakin University

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Daily thermal variability does not modify long-term gene expression relative to stable thermal environments: A case study of a tropical fish

journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-07, 03:22 authored by Hanna ScheuffeleHanna Scheuffele, Erica ToddErica Todd, John DonaldJohn Donald, Timothy ClarkTimothy Clark
Global warming is leading to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, magnifying the breadth of temperatures faced by ectotherms across days and seasons. Despite the importance and ecological relevance of diurnal thermal variability, the vast majority of knowledge on gene expression patterns and physiology stems from animals acclimated to constant temperatures or in the early stages of exposure to a new temperature regime. If heterothermal environments modulate responses differently from constant thermal environments, our existing capacity to forecast impacts of climate warming may be compromised. To address this knowledge gap, we acclimated barramundi (Lates calcarifer) to 23 °C, 29 °C (optimal), 35 °C and to thermal cycling conditions (23–35 °C daily with a mean of 29 °C) and sampled liver and white muscle tissue before acclimation and after 2 and 17 weeks of acclimation. NanoString nCounter technologies were used to measure expression of 20 genes related to metabolism, growth and maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Acclimation to cool and warm conditions caused predictable changes in whole-animal performance (metabolism and growth) and the underlying gene expression patterns. Acclimation to a cycling temperature regime did not change the molecular regulation of metabolism or growth compared with barramundi acclimated to constant 29 °C, nor did it cause any discernible effects on whole-animal performance. However, the heat shock response was higher in the former group, suggesting that barramundi under a daily temperature cycle have an increased need for cellular chaperoning to minimise detrimental effects of temperature on proteins. We conclude that the genetic regulation of metabolism and growth may be more dependent on the mean daily temperature than on the daily temperature range.



Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology -Part A : Molecular and Integrative Physiology



Article number





United States







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal


Elsevier BV