- • Paracentrotus lividus living at CO2 vents was compared to those at two control sites.
- • Sea urchins are adapted to life at vent site by altering immune cells metabolism.
- • Vent animals show a rearrangement of defensive abilities and antioxidant processes.
The effects of ocean acidification, a major anthropogenic impact on marine life, have been mainly investigated in laboratory/mesocosm experiments. We used the CO2 vents at Ischia as a natural laboratory to study the long-term effects of ocean acidification on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus population resident in low-pH (7.8 ± 0.2) compared to that at two control sites (pH 8.02 ± 0.00; 8.02 ± 0.01). The novelty of the present study is the analysis of the sea urchin immune cells, the sentinels of environmental stress responses, by a wide-ranging approach, including cell morphology, biochemistry and proteomics. Immune cell proteomics showed that 311 proteins were differentially expressed in urchins across sites with a general shift towards antioxidant processes in the vent urchins. The vent urchin immune cells showed higher levels of total antioxidant capacity, up-regulation of phagosome and microsomal proteins, enzymes of ammonium metabolism, amino-acid degradation, and modulation of carbon metabolism proteins. Lipid-hydroperoxides and nitric oxide levels were not different in urchins from the different sites. No differences in the coelomic fluid pH, immune cell composition, animal respiration, nitrogen excretion and skeletal mineralogy were observed. Our results reveal the phenotypic plasticity of the immune system of sea urchins adapted to life at vent site, under conditions commensurate with near-future ocean acidification projections.
Migliaccio O., Pinsino A., Maffioli E., Smith A. M., Agnisola C., Matranga V., Nonnis S., Tedeschi G., Byrne M., Gambi M. C. & Palumbo A., in press. Living in future ocean acidification, physiological adaptive responses of the immune systems of sea urchins resident at a CO2 vent system. Science of The Total Environment. Article (subscription required).