Posts Tagged 'Cnidaria'

Impact of climate change and contamination in the oxidative stress response of marine organisms

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are increasing at an unprecedented rate, changing the carbonate chemistry (in a process known as ocean acidification) and temperature of the worlds ocean. Moreover, the simultaneous occurrence of highly toxic and persistent contaminants, such as mercury, will play a key role in further shaping the ecophysiology of marine organisms. Thus, the main goal of the present dissertation was to undertake the first comprehensive and comparative analysis of the biochemical strategies, namely antioxidant defense (both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants) and protein repair and removal mechanisms, of several marine organisms – from invertebrate (Veretillum cynomorium and Gammarus locusta) to vertebrate species (Argyrosomus regius, Chiloscyllium plagiosum and Scyliorhinus canicula) – encompassing different life-stages and life-strategies to the predicted climate-mediated changes. The findings provided in the present dissertation proved that organisms’ responses were mostly underpinned by temperature (increasing lipid, protein and nucleic acid damage), that also culminated into increased mercury bioaccumulation and toxicity, while ocean acidification as a sole stressor usually played a minor role in defining species vulnerability (i.e. responsible for increased oxidative damage in the marine calcifying organisms G. locusta). Nonetheless when co-occurring with warming and contamination scenarios, acidification was usually responsible for the reduction of heavy metal accumulation and toxicity, as well as decreased warming and contamination-elicited oxidative stress. Additionally, organisms’ responses were species-specific, and organisms that usually occupy more variable environments (e.g. daily changes in abiotic conditions) usually displayed greater responses towards environmental change than organisms inhabiting more stable environments. Furthermore, and assuming the relevance of transgenerational effects, it seems that the negative effects of OA are potentially being inherited by the offspring’s, compromising the efficiency of future generations to endure the upcoming conditions.

Continue reading ‘Impact of climate change and contamination in the oxidative stress response of marine organisms’

The weakest link: sensitivity to climate extremes across life stages of marine invertebrates

Predicting the effects of climate change on Earth’s biota becomes even more challenging when acknowledging that most species have life cycles consisting of multiple stages, each of which may respond differently to extreme environmental conditions. There is currently no clear consensus regarding which stages are most susceptible to increasing environmental stress, or ‘climate extremes’. We used a meta‐analytic approach to quantify variation in responses to environmental stress across multiple life stages of marine invertebrates. We identified 287 experiments in 29 papers which examined the lethal thresholds of multiple life stages (embryo, larva, juvenile, and adult) of both holoplanktonic and meroplanktonic marine invertebrates subjected to the same experimental conditions of warming, acidification, and hypoxia stress. Most studies considered short acute exposure to stressors. We calculated effect sizes (log response ratio) for each life stage (unpaired analysis) and the difference in effect sizes between stages of each species (paired analysis) included in each experiment. In the unpaired analysis, all significant responses were negative, indicating that warming, acidification and hypoxia tended to increase mortality. Furthermore, embryos, larvae, and juveniles were more negatively affected by warming than adults. The paired analysis revealed that, when subjected to the same experimental conditions, younger life stages were more negatively affected by warming than older life stages, specifically among pairings of adults vs. juveniles and larvae vs. embryos. Although responses to warming are well documented, few studies of the effects of acidification and hypoxia met the criteria for inclusion in our analyses. Our results suggest that while most life stages will be negatively affected by climate change, younger stages of marine invertebrates are more sensitive to extreme heating events.

Continue reading ‘The weakest link: sensitivity to climate extremes across life stages of marine invertebrates’

Eating in an acidifying ocean: a quantitative review of elevated CO2 effects on the feeding rates of calcifying marine invertebrates

Feeding is fundamental for all heterotrophic organisms, providing the means to acquire energy for basic life processes. Recent studies have suggested that experimental ocean acidification (OA) can alter the feeding performance of marine calcifying invertebrates, but results have been inconsistent. While several reviews pertaining to the biological effects of OA exist, none provide a synthesis of OA effects on feeding performance. Here, we provide a quantitative analysis of published experiments testing for effects of elevated CO2 on feeding rates of marine calcifying invertebrates. Results revealed that suspension-feeding molluscs and predatory and grazing echinoderms experienced depressed feeding rates under elevated CO2, while arthropods appeared unaffected; larval and juvenile animals were more susceptible to CO2 effects than adults. Feeding strategy did not appear to influence the overall taxonomic trend, nor did habitat, although exposure time did have an effect. AIC model selection revealed that Phylum best predicted effect size; life stage and exposure time were also included in candidate models. Based on these results, we synthesize potential physiological attributes of different taxa that may drive OA sensitivities in feeding rates, which could potentially result in community-level impacts. We also discuss CO2 effects on calcifier feeding in the context of elevated temperature and other global marine change stressors, and highlight other areas for future research.

Continue reading ‘Eating in an acidifying ocean: a quantitative review of elevated CO2 effects on the feeding rates of calcifying marine invertebrates’

The effects of ocean acidification on feeding and contest behaviour by the beadlet anemone Actinia equina

Increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are causing oceanic pH to decline worldwide, a phenomenon termed ocean acidification. Mounting experimental evidence indicates that near-future levels of CO2 will affect calcareous invertebrates such as corals, molluscs and gastropods, by reducing their scope for calcification. Despite extensive research into ocean acidification in recent years, the effects on non-calcifying anthozoans, such as sea anemones, remain little explored. In Western Europe, intertidal anemones such as Actinia equina are abundant, lower trophic-level organisms that function as important ecosystem engineers. Changes to behaviours of these simple predators could have implications for intertidal assemblages. This investigation identified the effects of reduced seawater pH on feeding and contest behaviour by A. equina. Video footage was recorded for A. equina feeding at current-day seawater (pH 8.1), and the least (pH 7.9) and most (pH 7.6) severe end-of-century predictions. Footage was also taken of contests over ownership of space between anemones exposed to reduced pH and those that were not. No statistically significant differences were identified in feeding duration or various aspects of contest behaviour including initiating, winning, inflating acrorhagi, inflicting acrorhagial peels and contest duration. Multivariate analyses showed no effect of pH on a combination of these variables. This provides contrast with other studies where anemones with symbiotic algae thrive in areas of natural increased acidity. Thus, novel experiments using intraspecific contests and resource-holding potential may prove an effective approach to understand sub-lethal consequences of ocean acidification for A. equina, other sea anemones and more broadly for marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘The effects of ocean acidification on feeding and contest behaviour by the beadlet anemone Actinia equina’

Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on planula larvae of the moon jellyfish Aurelia coerulea

Highlights

• We addressed the impact of ocean acidification and seawater temperature increases on scyphozoan planulae.
A. coerulea planulae can cope well with decreased pH conditions through rapid settlement.
• Elevated seawater temperature appears to be a crucial stress factor for A. coerulea planulae.

Abstract

Rapidly rising levels of atmospheric CO2 have caused two environmental stressors, ocean acidification and seawater temperature increases, which represent major abiotic threats to marine organisms. Here, we investigated for the first time the combined effects of ocean acidification and seawater temperature increases on the behavior, survival, and settlement of the planula larvae of Aurelia coerulea, which is considered a nuisance species around the world. Three pH levels (8.1, 7.7 and 7.3) and two temperature levels (24 °C and 27 °C) were used in the present study. There were no interactive effects of temperature and pH on the behavior, survival, and settlement of planula larvae of A. coerulea. We found that the swimming speed and mortality of the planula larvae of A. coerulea were significantly affected by temperature, and low pH significantly affected settlement. Planula larvae of A. coerulea from the elevated temperature treatment moved faster and showed higher mortality than those at the control temperature. The settlement rate of A. coerulea planulae was significantly higher at the pH level of 7.3 than at other pH levels. These results suggest that seawater temperature increase, rather than reduced pH, was the main stress factor affecting the survival of A. coerulea planulae. Overall, the planula larvae of the common jellyfish A. coerulea appeared to be resistant to ocean acidification, but may be negatively affected by future seawater temperature increases.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on planula larvae of the moon jellyfish Aurelia coerulea’

Expression of homing endonuclease gene and insertion-like element in sea anemone mitochondrial genomes: lesson learned from Anemonia viridis

Highlights

• We report complete mitochondrial genome sequences and corresponding mito-transcriptomes of the two related sea anemone species Anemonia viridis and Anemonia majano
• We describe structural features of group I introns in the NADH dehydrogenase 5 gene and the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene, the latter containing a homing endonuclease gene
• We provide support of that the intron homing endonuclease gene is expressed in a gene-fusion strategy involving exon 1 of the COI gene
• We show that the insertion-like element orfA is well expressed from sea anemone mitochondrial geneomes
• Long-term environmental stress due to low-seawater pH conditions results in up-regulation of COI and orfA gene expressions in Anemonia viridis

Abstract

The mitochondrial genomes of sea anemones are dynamic in structure. Invasion by genetic elements, such as self-catalytic group I introns or insertion-like sequences, contribute to sea anemone mitochondrial genome expansion and complexity. By using next generation sequencing we investigated the complete mtDNAs and corresponding transcriptomes of the temperate sea anemone Anemonia viridis and its closer tropical relative Anemonia majano. Two versions of fused homing endonuclease gene (HEG) organization were observed among the Actiniidae sea anemones; in-frame gene fusion and pseudo-gene fusion. We provided support for the pseudo-gene fusion organization in Anemonia species, resulting in a repressed HEG from the COI-884 group I intron. orfA, a putative protein-coding gene with insertion-like features, was present in both Anemonia species. Interestingly, orfA and COI expression were significantly up-regulated upon long-term environmental stress corresponding to low seawater pH conditions. This study provides new insights to the dynamics of sea anemone mitochondrial genome structure and function.

Continue reading ‘Expression of homing endonuclease gene and insertion-like element in sea anemone mitochondrial genomes: lesson learned from Anemonia viridis’

Elucidating the small regulatory RNA repertoire of the sea anemone Anemonia viridis based on whole genome and small RNA sequencing

Cnidarians harbor a variety of small regulatory RNAs that include microRNAs (miRNAs) and PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), but detailed information is limited. Here, we report the identification and expression of novel miRNAs and putative piRNAs, as well as their genomic loci, in the symbiotic sea anemone Anemonia viridis. We generated a draft assembly of the A. viridis genome with putative size of 313 Mb that appeared to be composed of about 36% repeats, including known transposable elements. We detected approximately equal fractions of DNA transposons and retrotransposons. Deep sequencing of small RNA libraries constructed from A. viridis adults sampled at a natural CO2 gradient off Vulcano Island, Italy, identified 70 distinct miRNAs. Eight were homologous to previously reported miRNAs in cnidarians, whereas 62 appeared novel. Nine miRNAs were recognized as differentially expressed along the natural seawater pH gradient. We found a highly abundant and diverse population of piRNAs, with a substantial fraction showing ping–pong signatures. We identified nearly 22% putative piRNAs potentially targeting transposable elements within the A. viridis genome. The A. viridis genome appeared similar in size to that of other hexacorals with a very high divergence of transposable elements resembling that of the sea anemone genus Exaiptasia. The genome encodes and expresses a high number of small regulatory RNAs, which include novel miRNAs and piRNAs. Differentially expressed small RNAs along the seawater pH gradient indicated regulatory gene responses to environmental stressors.

Continue reading ‘Elucidating the small regulatory RNA repertoire of the sea anemone Anemonia viridis based on whole genome and small RNA sequencing’


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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book