Data from: Loggerhead sea turtle embryos (Caretta caretta) regulate expression of stress-response and developmental genes when exposed to a biologically realistic heat stress

  • Blair Bentley (Creator)
  • Brian J. Haas (Creator)
  • Jamie Tedeschi (Creator)
  • Oliver Fleetwood Berry (Creator)



Triontate annotation report for Caretta caretta (brain tissue) de novo assembled transcriptome by Trinity. Wild collected eggs from Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Reared at the University of Western Australia. 50% of individuals were subjected to a biologically relevant thermal stress (36C for 3hrs; HS1-3). BLASTs were against Swissprot and NCBI nr Testudine databases, hmmscan against Pfam. Minimum E-value of -5.

Oviparous reptile embryos are expected to breach their critical thermal maxima if temperatures reach those predicted under current climate change models due to the lack the maternal buffering processes and parental care. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are integral in the molecular response to thermal stress, and their expression is heritable, but the roles of other candidate families such as the heat shock factors (HSFs) have not been determined in reptiles. Here we subject embryonic sea turtles (Caretta caretta) to a biologically realistic thermal stress and employ de novo transcriptomic profiling of brain tissue to investigate the underlying molecular response. From a reference transcriptome of 302,293 transcripts, 179 were identified as differentially expressed between treatments. As anticipated, genes enriched in the heat shock treatment were primarily associated with the Hsp families, or were genes whose products play similar protein editing and chaperone functions (e.g. bag3, MYOC and serpinh1). Unexpectedly, genes encoding the HSFs were not significantly upregulated under thermal stress, indicating their presence in unstressed cells in an inactive state. Genes that were downregulated under thermal stress were less well functionally defined but were associated with stress response, development, and cellular organization, suggesting that developmental processes may be compromised at realistically high temperatures. These results confirm that genes from the Hsp families play vital roles in the thermal tolerance of developing reptile embryos, and in addition with a number of other genes, should be targets for evaluating the capacity of oviparous reptiles to respond adaptively to the effects of climate change.
Date made available1 Mar 2017
Geographical coverageDirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay, Western Australia


  • Sea turtle
  • Climate change
  • Adaptation
  • Transcriptome
  • Heat stress
  • Response
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Reptiles
  • Transcriptomics
  • Caretta caretta
  • Holocene

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