Future ocean warming may prove beneficial for the northern population of European seabass, but ocean acidification does not

The world’s oceans are acidifying and warming due to increasing amounts of atmospheric CO2. Thermal tolerance of fish much depends on the cardiovascular ability to supply the tissues with oxygen. The heart itself is highly dependent on oxygen and heart mitochondria thus might play a key role in shaping an organism’s tolerance to temperature. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of acute and chronic warming on respiratory capacities of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) heart mitochondria. We hypothesized that acute warming would impair mitochondrial respiratory capacities, but be compensated after long-term. Increasing PCO2 may cause intracellular changes, likely further constricting cellular energy metabolism. We found increased leak respiration rates in acutely warmed heart mitochondria of cold-conditioned fish in comparison to measurements at their rearing temperature, suggesting a lower aerobic capacity to synthesize ATP. However, thermal acclimation led to increased mitochondrial functionality, e.g. higher RCRo in heart mitochondria of warm-conditioned compared to cold-conditioned fish. Exposure to high PCO2 synergistically amplified the effects of acute and long-term warming, but did not result in changes by itself. We explained the high ability to maintain mitochondrial function under OA with the fact that seabass are moving between various environmental conditions. Improved mitochondrial capacities after warm conditioning could be due to the origin of this species in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Our results also indicate that seabass are not yet fully adapted to the colder temperatures in their northern distribution range and might benefit from warmer temperatures.

Howald S., Cominassi L., Le Bayon N., Claireaux G. & Mark F. C., in press. Future ocean warming may prove beneficial for the northern population of European seabass, but ocean acidification does not. bioRxiv. Article.

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