Bacteriostatic suppression in Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) exposed to manganese or hypoxia under pressure of ocean acidification

Future ocean acidification (OA) and warming following climate change elicit pervasive stressors to the inhabitants of the sea. Previous experimental exposure to OA for 16 weeks at pH levels predicted for 2100, has shown to result in serious immune suppression of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus. The lobsters are currently affected by stressors such as periodical hypoxia inducing high levels of bioavailable manganese (Mn). Here, we aimed to investigate possible effects of interactions between OA and these stressors on total hemocyte counts (THC) and on recovery of inoculated bacteria in the lobsters, measured as a proxy for bacteriostatic response. The effects were judged by following numbers of culturable Vibrio parahaemolyticus in hepatopancreas, 4 and 24 h post inoculation in lobsters kept in replicate tanks with six different treatments; either ambient (pCO2∼ 500 μatm/pH∼8.1 units) or CO2 manipulated seawater (OA; pCO2 1550 μatm/pH∼7.6 units) for 8 weeks. During the last two weeks additional stress of either hypoxia (∼23% oxygen saturation) or Mn (∼9 mgL−1) was added except in control treatments. Our results showed clear effect on bacteriostatic response in Norway lobsters exposed to these stressors. In lobster kept in ambient seawater without additional stressors the number of culturable bacteria in hepatopancreas was reduced by ∼ 34%. In combined treatment of ambient seawater and hypoxia the reduction was ∼23%, while in the Mn-exposed animals, there was no reduction at all. This was also the case in all OA-treatments where mean numbers of culturable V. parahaemolyticus tended to increase. In lobsters from ambient seawater with or without hypoxia, the total hemocyte count (THC) was not significantly different as was also the case in OA without additional stressors. However, in OA-treatments combined with either hypoxia or Mn, THC was reduced by ∼ 35%.While the reduction of culturable V. parahaemolyticus in lobsters was clearly affected by these stressors, we found no notable effects on growth, survival or hemolytic properties of the bacteria itself. Thus, we conclude that this predicted stress scenario is beneficial for the pathogen in its interaction with the host. As OA proceeds, it may force the health of the ecologically and economically important N. norvegicus to a tipping point if exposed to more short-term stressors such as the periodical events of hypoxia and Mn. This could impact lobster condition and biomass and may as well increase the risk for bacterial transmission to consumers.

Hernrotha B., Krång A.-S. Baden S., in press. Bacteriostatic suppression in Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) exposed to manganese or hypoxia under pressure of ocean acidification. Aquatic Toxicology. Article (subscription required).

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