Posts Tagged 'pathogens'

Evidence for multiple stressor interactions and effects on coral reefs

Concern is growing about the potential effects of interacting multiple stressors, especially as the global climate changes. We provide a comprehensive review of multiple stressor interactions in coral reef ecosystems, which are widely considered to be one of the most sensitive ecosystems to global change. First, we synthesized coral reef studies that examined interactions of two or more stressors, highlighting stressor interactions (where one stressor directly influences another) and potentially synergistic effects on response variables (where two stressors interact to produce an effect that is greater than purely additive). For stressor-stressor interactions, we found studies that examined at least 2 of the 13 stressors of interest. Applying network analysis to analyze relationships between stressors, we found that pathogens were exacerbated by more co-stressors than any other stressor, with ~78% of studies reporting an enhancing effect by another stressor. Sedimentation, storms, and water temperature directly affected the largest number of other stressors. Pathogens, nutrients, and crown-of-thorns starfish were the most-influenced stressors. We found 187 studies that examined the effects of two or more stressors on a third dependent variable. The interaction of irradiance and temperature on corals has been the subject of more research (62 studies, 33% of the total) than any other combination of stressors, with many studies reporting a synergistic effect on coral symbiont photosynthetic performance (n=19). Second, we performed a quantitative meta-analysis of existing literature on this most-studied interaction (irradiance and temperature). We found that the mean effect size of combined treatments was statistically indistinguishable from a purely additive interaction, although it should be noted that the sample size was relatively small (n=26). Overall, although in aggregate a large body of literature examines stressor effects on coral reefs and coral organisms, considerable gaps remain for numerous stressor interactions and effects, and insufficient quantitative evidence exists to suggest that the prevailing type of stressor interaction is synergistic.

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The impact of ocean acidification, increased seawater temperature and a bacterial challenge on the immune response and physiology of the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis

Anthropogenic activities are fundamentally altering the chemistry of the world’s oceans. Many of these modifications could have a significant impact on the health of marine organisms. Yet, despite being proposed as one of the most significant threats that marine ecosystems face, to date very little is known about the impact of anthropogenic climate change, and ocean acidification in particular, on host defence. The aims of this thesis are to investigate the impact of environmental stressors on the invertebrate immune response, providing empirical data on how anthropogenically induced stressors will impact the invertebrate immune system and how this will impact organism condition and subsequent physiological trade-offs. Exposure to reduced seawater pH and increased temperature significantly reduced the immune response in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. This reduction in immune response could indicate stress-induced immune dysfunction. However, the immune system protects an organism from infectious disease, ensuring survival, and should therefore be evaluated functionally rather than immunologically. By subsequently exposing mussels to a bacterial challenge this study demonstrated that an earlier study which measured a reduction in host defence represented a trade-off of immune system maintenance costs, with mussels maintaining a capacity to up-regulate immune defence when required. However, whilst this immune plasticity ensures mussels are able to survive a pathogen exposure, such a strategy appears to be physiologically costly. This cost is seen as a reduction in reproductive investment, an altered energy metabolism and an altered fatty acid composition in organisms exposed to low pH. Therefore the overarching picture that emerges is, without measuring physiological processes functionally, and in neglecting any physiological trade-offs, it is possible that many studies may misinterpret the complex physiological responses of marine organisms to ocean acidification.

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