Posts Tagged 'molecular biology'

Divergent gene expression in the gills of juvenile turbot (Psetta maxima) exposed to chronic severe hypercapnia indicates dose-dependent increase in intracellular oxidative stress and hypoxia

• We investigated the impact of chronic hypercapnia on gene expression in the gills of turbot (Psetta maxima) via RT-qPCR.

• Data indicated enhanced concentrations of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the two highest treatment levels.

• Further, dose-dependent modulations of transcriptional adjustments implied different underlying coping mechanisms.

• These modulations seemed to comprise hypoxia-mediated suppressed protein synthesis in the highest tested treatment level.

• We discuss our results within a model of capacity limitation and draw conclusions regarding the condition of the gills.

Elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide are a common stressor for fish and other aquatic animals. In particular, intensive aquaculture can impose prolonged periods of severe environmental hypercapnia, manifold exceeding CO2 concentrations of natural habitats. In order to cope with this stressor, gills are essential and constitute the primary organ in the acclimatization process. Yet, despite a general understanding of changes in ion regulation, not much is known with regard to other cellular mechanisms. In this study, we apply RT-qPCR to investigate changes in the expression of several genes associated with metabolism, stress and immunity within gills of juvenile turbot (Psetta maxima) after an eight-week exposure to different concentrations of CO2 (low = ∼3000 μatm, medium = ∼15,000 μatm and high = ∼25,000 μatm CO2). Histological examination of the gill tissue only found a significant increase of hypertrophied secondary lamella in the highest tested treatment level. gene expression results, on the other hand, implied both, mutual and dose-dependent transcriptional adjustments. Comparable up-regulation of IL-1ß, LMP7 and Grim19 at medium and high hypercapnia indicated an increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within gill cells. Simultaneous increase in Akirin and PRDX transcripts at medium CO2 indicated enhanced anti-oxidant activity and regulation of transcription, while reduced mRNA concentrations of COX, EF1α and STAT2 at high CO2 denoted suppressed protein synthesis and reduced metabolic capacity. In addition to upregulated DFAD and ApoE expression, implying compensating repair measures, gills exposed to the highest tested treatment level seemed to operate close to or even beyond their maximum capacity. Thus, fitting the model of capacity limitation, our results provide evidence for accretive intracellular hypoxia and oxidative stress in the gills of turbot, dependent on the level of environmental hypercapnia. Further, genes, such as COX, may be valuable biomarkers when attempting to discriminate between a successful and an overpowered stress response.

Continue reading ‘Divergent gene expression in the gills of juvenile turbot (Psetta maxima) exposed to chronic severe hypercapnia indicates dose-dependent increase in intracellular oxidative stress and hypoxia’

Differential responses to ocean acidification between populations of Balanophyllia elegans corals from high and low upwelling environments

Ocean acidification (OA), the global decrease in surface water pH from absorption of anthropogenic CO2, may put many marine taxa at risk. However, populations that experience extreme localized conditions, and are adapted to these conditions predicted in the global ocean in 2100, may be more tolerant to future OA. By identifying locally adapted populations, researchers can examine the mechanisms used to cope with decreasing pH. One oceanographic process that influences pH, is wind driven upwelling. Here we compare two Californian populations of the coral Balanophyllia elegans from distinct upwelling regimes, and test their physiological and transcriptomic responses to experimental seawater acidification. We measured respiration rates, protein and lipid content, and gene expression in corals from both populations exposed to pH levels of 7.8 and 7.4 for 29 days. Corals from the population that experiences lower pH due to high upwelling, maintained the same respiration rate throughout the exposure. In contrast, corals from the low upwelling site had reduced respiration rates, protein content, and lipid‐class content at low pH exposure, suggesting they have depleted their energy reserves. Using RNA‐Seq, we found that corals from the high upwelling site upregulated genes involved in calcium ion binding and ion transport, most likely related to pH homeostasis and calcification. In contrast, corals from the low upwelling site downregulated stress response genes at low pH exposure. Divergent population responses to low pH observed in B. elegans highlight the importance of multi‐population studies for predicting a species’ response to future OA.

Continue reading ‘Differential responses to ocean acidification between populations of Balanophyllia elegans corals from high and low upwelling environments’

Future climate change is predicted to affect the microbiome and condition of habitat-forming kelp

Climate change is driving global declines of marine habitat-forming species through physiological effects and through changes to ecological interactions, with projected trajectories for ocean warming and acidification likely to exacerbate such impacts in coming decades. Interactions between habitat-formers and their microbiomes are fundamental for host functioning and resilience, but how such relationships will change in future conditions is largely unknown. We investigated independent and interactive effects of warming and acidification on a large brown seaweed, the kelp Ecklonia radiata, and its associated microbiome in experimental mesocosms. Microbial communities were affected by warming and, during the first week, by acidification. During the second week, kelp developed disease-like symptoms previously observed in the field. The tissue of some kelp blistered, bleached and eventually degraded, particularly under the acidification treatments, affecting photosynthetic efficiency. Microbial communities differed between blistered and healthy kelp for all treatments, except for those under future conditions of warming and acidification, which after two weeks resembled assemblages associated with healthy hosts. This indicates that changes in the microbiome were not easily predictable as the severity of future climate scenarios increased. Future ocean conditions can change kelp microbiomes and may lead to host disease, with potentially cascading impacts on associated ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Future climate change is predicted to affect the microbiome and condition of habitat-forming kelp’

Molecular mechanisms underpinning transgenerational plasticity in the green sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris

The pre-conditioning of adult marine invertebrates to altered conditions, such as low pH, can significantly impact offspring outcomes, a process which is often referred to as transgenerational plasticity (TGP). This study describes for the first time, the gene expression profiles associated with TGP in the green sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris and evaluates the transcriptional contribution to larval resilience. RNA-Seq was used to determine how the expression profiles of larvae spawned into low pH from pre-acclimated adults differed to those of larvae produced from adults cultured under ambient pH. The main findings demonstrated that adult conditioning to low pH critically pre-loads the embryonic transcriptional pool with antioxidants to prepare the larvae for the “new” conditions. In addition, the classic cellular stress response, measured via the production of heat shock proteins (the heat shock response (HSR)), was separately evaluated. None of the early stage larvae either spawned in low pH (produced from both ambient and pre-acclimated adults) or subjected to a separate heat shock experiment were able to activate the full HSR as measured in adults, but the capacity to mount an HSR increased as development proceeded. This compromised ability clearly contributes to the vulnerability of early stage larvae to acute environmental challenge.

Continue reading ‘Molecular mechanisms underpinning transgenerational plasticity in the green sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris’

A potential role for epigenetic processes in the acclimation response to elevated pCO2 in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

Understanding of the molecular responses underpinning diatom responses to ocean acidification is fundamental for predicting how important primary producers will be shaped by the continuous rise in atmospheric CO2. In this study, we have analyzed global transcriptomic changes of the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum following growth for 15 generations in elevated pCO2 by strand-specific RNA sequencing (ssRNA-seq). Our results indicate that no significant effects of elevated pCO2 and associated carbonate chemistry changes on the physiological performance of the cells were observed after 15 generations whereas the expression of genes encoding histones and other genes involved in chromatin structure were significantly down-regulated, while the expression of transposable elements (TEs) and genes encoding histone acetylation enzymes were significantly up-regulated. Furthermore, we identified a series of long non-protein coding RNAs (lncRNAs) specifically responsive to elevated pCO2, suggesting putative regulatory roles for these largely uncharacterized genome components. Taken together, our integrative analyses reveal that epigenetic elements such as TEs, histone modifications and lncRNAs may have important roles in the acclimation of diatoms to elevated pCO2 over short time scales and thus may influence longer term adaptive processes in response to progressive ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘A potential role for epigenetic processes in the acclimation response to elevated pCO2 in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum’

Microbial strains isolated from CO2-venting Kolumbo submarine volcano show enhanced co-tolerance to acidity and antibiotics


• The study investigates the effects of volcanic acidification to marine bacteria.

• Deep waters of Kolumbo submarine volcano are CO2-rich and more acidic.

• Pseudomonas strains from Kolumbo seafloor show higher tolerance to acidity.

• Strong correlation between acid and antibiotic tolerance of Pseudomonas species.

• Ocean acidification may lead to marine bacteria with increased antibiotic tolerance.


As ocean acidification intensifies, there is growing global concern about the impacts that future pH levels are likely to have on marine life and ecosystems. By analogy, a steep decrease of seawater pH with depth is encountered inside the Kolumbo submarine volcano (northeast Santorini) as a result of natural CO2 venting, making this system ideal for ocean acidification research. Here, we investigated whether the increase of acidity towards deeper layers of Kolumbo crater had any effect on relevant phenotypic traits of bacterial isolates. A total of 31 Pseudomonas strains were isolated from both surface- (SSL) and deep-seawater layers (DSL), with the latter presenting a significantly higher acid tolerance. In particular, the DSL strains were able to cope with H+ levels that were 18 times higher. Similarly, the DSL isolates exhibited a significantly higher tolerance than SSL strains against six commonly used antibiotics and As(III). More importantly, a significant positive correlation was revealed between antibiotics and acid tolerance across the entire set of SSL and DSL isolates. Our findings imply that Pseudomonas species with higher resilience to antibiotics could be favored by the prospect of acidifying oceans. Further studies are required to determine if this feature is universal across marine bacteria and to assess potential ecological impacts.

Continue reading ‘Microbial strains isolated from CO2-venting Kolumbo submarine volcano show enhanced co-tolerance to acidity and antibiotics’

Gene expression profiles of two coral species with varied resistance to ocean acidification

Recent studies have indicated that various corals might have different degrees of resistance to elevated CO2 levels. However, the underlying molecular mechanism accounting for these differences is still poorly understood. In this study, RNA-seq data were analyzed to identify differentially expressed genes in two coral species (Acropora austera and Acropora cerealis) in response to high CO2 levels. The calcification rates were higher in high CO2 treatment than the control in A. austera, but was not significantly different in A. cerealis. A KEGG database search revealed that in both coral species, most Ca2+ transporters were present in the calcium signaling pathway, which could be important in the CO2 regulation of coral calcification. The gene expression levels of many CO2 and HCO3 transporters were not affected by elevated CO2. Nevertheless, high CO2 levels did have an effect on the expression of certain Ca2+ transporters. The upregulation of Ca2+ transporters likely explained the higher resistance of A. austera to high CO2 than A. cerealis.

Continue reading ‘Gene expression profiles of two coral species with varied resistance to ocean acidification’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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