Long-term exposure to near-future ocean acidification does not affect the expression of neurogenesis- and synaptic transmission-related genes in the olfactory bulb of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

The decrease in ocean pH that results from the increased concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) is likely to influence many physiological functions in organisms. It has been shown in different fish species that ocean acidification (OA) mainly affects sensory systems, including olfaction. Impairment of olfactory function may be due to a dysfunction of the GABAergic system and to an alteration of neuronal plasticity in the whole brain and particularly in olfactory bulbs. Recent studies revealed that OA-driven effects on sensory systems are partly mediated by the regulation of the expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and neuronal development. However, these studies were performed in fish exposed to acidified waters for short periods, of only a few days. In the present paper, we investigated whether such effects could be observed in adult (4-years old) European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) exposed to two hypercapnic and acidified conditions (PCO2 ≈ 980 µatm; pH total = 7.7 and PCO2 ≈ 1520 µatm; pH total = 7.5) from the larval stage. In a first approach, we analyzed by qPCR the expression of five genes involved in neurogenesis (DCX) or expressed in GABAergic (Gabra3), glutamatergic (Gria1) or dopaminergic (TH and DDC) neurons in the olfactory bulbs. The tested experimental conditions did not change the expression of any of the five genes. This result would indicate that a potential disruption of the olfactory function of sea bass exposed for a long term to near-future OA, either occurs at a level other than the transcriptional one or involves other actors of the sensory function.

Mazurais D., Servili A., Le Bayon N., Gislard S., Madec L. & Zambonino-Infante J.-L., in press. Long-term exposure to near-future ocean acidification does not affect the expression of neurogenesis- and synaptic transmission-related genes in the olfactory bulb of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Journal of Comparative Physiology B. Article (subscription required).

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