Marine bivalves such as the hard shell clams Mercenaria mercenaria and eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica are affected by multiple stressors, including fluctuations in temperature and CO2 levels in estuaries, and these stresses are expected to be exacerbated by ongoing global climate change. Hypercapnia (elevated CO2 levels) and temperature stress can affect survival, growth and development of marine bivalves, but the cellular mechanisms of these effects are not yet fully understood. In this study, we investigated whether oxidative stress is implicated in cellular responses to elevated temperature and CO2 levels in marine bivalves. We measured the whole-organism standard metabolic rate (SMR), total antioxidant capacity (TAOC), and levels of oxidative stress biomarkers in the muscle tissues of clams and oysters exposed to different temperatures (22 and 27 °C) and CO2 levels (the present day conditions of ~ 400 ppm CO2 and 800 ppm CO2 predicted by a consensus business-as-usual IPCC emission scenario for the year 2100). SMR was significantly higher and the antioxidant capacity was lower in oysters than in clams. Aerobic metabolism was largely temperature-independent in these two species in the studied temperature range (22–27 °C). However, the combined exposure to elevated temperature and hypercapnia led to elevated SMR in clams indicating elevated costs of basal maintenance. No persistent oxidative stress signal (measured by the levels of protein carbonyls, and protein conjugates with malondialdehyde and 4-hydroxynonenal) was observed during the long-term exposure to moderate warming (+ 5 °C) and hypercapnia (~ 800 ppm CO2). This indicates that long-term exposure to moderately elevated CO2 and temperature minimally affects the cellular redox status in these bivalve species and that the earlier observed negative physiological effects of elevated CO2 and temperature must be explained by other cellular mechanisms.
Matoo O. B., Ivanina A. V., Ullstad C., Beniash E. & Sokolova I. M., in press. Interactive effects of elevated temperature and CO2 levels on metabolism and oxidative stress in two common marine bivalves (Crassostrea virginica and Mercenaria mercenaria). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology. Article (subscription required).