Posts Tagged 'physiology'

Oxidative stress and biomarker responses in the Atlantic halibut after long term exposure to elevated CO2 and a range of temperatures

Oceans are warming and pH levels are decreasing as a consequence of increasing levels of dissolved CO2 concentrations. The CO2 emissions are predicted to be produce in greater and faster changes in the ocean than any other event in geological and historical records over the past 300 million years. Marine organisms will need to respond to multiple stressors but the potential consequences of global change-related effects in fish are not fully understood. Since fish are affected by many biotic and abiotic environmental variables, including temperature and CO2 fluctuations, it is critical to investigate how these variables may affect physiological and biochemical processes. We investigated the effects of elevated CO2 levels (pH of 8.0, which served as a control, or 7.6, which is predicted for the year 2100) combined with exposure to different temperatures (5, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 C ) in the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) during a three month experiment. We assessed effects on antioxidant and cholinesterase enzymes (AChE and BChE), and CYP1A enzyme activities (EROD). The treatments resulted in oxidative stress, and damage was evident in the form of protein carbonyls which were consistently higher in the elevated CO2-treated fish at all temperatures. Analyses of antioxidant enzymes did not show the same results, suggesting that the exposure to elevated CO2 increased ROS formation but not defences. The antioxidant defence system was insufficient, and the resulting oxidative damage could impact physiological function of the halibut on a cellular level.

Continue reading ‘Oxidative stress and biomarker responses in the Atlantic halibut after long term exposure to elevated CO2 and a range of temperatures’

Effects of higher CO2 and temperature on exopolymer particle content and physical properties of marine aggregates

We investigated how future ocean conditions, and specifically the interaction between temperature and CO2, might affect marine aggregate formation and physical properties. Initially, mesocosms filled with coastal seawater were subjected to three different treatments of CO2 concentration and temperature: (1) 750 ppm CO2, 16°C, (2) 750 ppm CO2, 20°C, and (3) 390 ppm CO2, 16°C. Diatom-dominated phytoplankton blooms were induced in the mesocosms by addition of nutrients. In aggregates produced in roller tanks using seawater taken from the mesocosms during different stages of the bloom, we measured sinking velocity, size, chlorophyll a, particulate organic carbon and nitrogen, and exopolymer particle content; excess density and mass were calculated from the sinking velocity and size of the aggregates. As has been seen in previous experiments, no discernable differences in overall nutrient uptake, chlorophyll-a concentration, or exopolymer particle concentrations could be related to the acidification treatment in the mesocosms. In addition, in the aggregates formed during the roller tank experiments (RTEs), we observed no statistically significant differences in chemical composition among the treatments during Pre-Bloom, Bloom, and Post-Bloom periods. However, physical characteristics were different and showed a synergistic effect of warmer temperature and higher CO2 during the Pre-Bloom period; at this time, temperature had a larger effect than CO2 on aggregate sinking velocity. In RTEs with warmer and acidified treatment (future conditions), aggregates were larger, heavier, and settled faster than aggregates formed at present-day or only acidified conditions. During the Post-Bloom, however, aggregates formed under present and future conditions had similar physical properties. In acidified tanks at ambient temperature, aggregates were slower, smaller and less dense than those formed at the same temperature but under present CO2 or under warmer and acidified conditions. Thus, the sinking velocity of aggregates formed in acidified tanks at ambient temperature was slower than the other two cases. Our findings point out the potential of ocean acidification and warming to modify physical properties of sinking aggregates but also emphasize the need of future experiments investigating multiple environmental stressors to clarify the importance of each factor.

Continue reading ‘Effects of higher CO2 and temperature on exopolymer particle content and physical properties of marine aggregates’

Low pH reduced survival of the oyster Crassostrea gigas exposed to the Ostreid herpesvirus 1 by altering the metabolic response of the host


  • The susceptibility of Crassostrea gigas to OsHV-1 increased at pH 7.8 in comparison to pH 8.1
  • The amount of OsHV-1 in oyster tissues was the same at both pH, suggesting the role of host metabolic response in differential survival
  • A lower activity of SOD and a basal activity of iNOS at pH 7.8, in comparison to pH 8.1, may have impaired the defence of oysters to OsHV-1 explaining the lower survival


Environmental change in the marine realm has been accompanied by emerging diseases as new pathogens evolve to take advantage of hosts weakened by environmental stress. Here we investigated how an exposure to reduced seawater pH influenced the response of the oyster Crassostrea gigas to an infection by the Ostreid herpesvirus type I (OsHV-1). Oysters were acclimated at pH 8.1 or pH 7.8 and then exposed to OsHV-1. Their survival was monitored and oyster tissues were sampled for biochemical analyses. The survival of oysters exposed to OsHV-1 at pH 7.8 was lower (33.5%) than that of their counterparts at pH 8.1 (44.8%) whereas levels of OsHV-1 DNA were similar. Energetic reserves, fatty acid composition and prostaglandin levels in oyster did not vary consistently with pH, infection or their interactions. However, there was a reduction in the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in oysters at low pH, which is associated with the observed difference in survival.

Continue reading ‘Low pH reduced survival of the oyster Crassostrea gigas exposed to the Ostreid herpesvirus 1 by altering the metabolic response of the host’

Divergent responses of Atlantic cod to ocean acidification and food limitation

In order to understand the effect of global change on marine fishes, it is imperative to quantify the effects on fundamental parameters such as survival and growth. Larval survival and recruitment of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) was found to be heavily impaired by end‐of‐century levels of ocean acidification. Here, we analysed larval growth among 35‐36 days old surviving larvae, along with organ development and ossification of the skeleton. We combined CO2‐treatments (ambient: 503 μatm, elevated: 1179 μatm) with food availability in order to evaluate the effect of energy limitation in addition to the ocean acidification stressor. As expected, larval size (as a proxy for growth) and skeletogenesis were positively affected by high food availability. We found significant interactions between acidification and food availability. Larvae fed ad libitum showed little difference in growth and skeletogenesis due to the CO2 treatment. Larvae under energy limitation were significantly larger and had further developed skeletal structures in the elevated CO2 treatment compared to the ambient CO2 treatment. However, the elevated CO2 group revealed impairments in critically important organs, such as the liver, and had comparatively smaller functional gills indicating a mismatch between size and function. It is therefore likely that individual larvae that had survived acidification treatments, will suffer from impairments later during ontogeny. Our study highlights important allocation trade‐off between growth and organ development, which is critically important to interpret acidification effects on early life‐stages of fish.

Continue reading ‘Divergent responses of Atlantic cod to ocean acidification and food limitation’

Phenotypic plasticity at the edge: contrasting population‐level responses at the overlap of the leading and rear edges of the geographical distribution of two Scurria limpets

To examine the role of ocean temperature and chemistry as drivers of interpopulation differences in multiple phenotypic traits between rear and leading edge populations of two species of limpet.

The coast of north‐central Chile, western South America.

Mollusca, Gastropoda (Lottidae).

We used field and laboratory experiments to study the ecology and physiology of individuals from populations located at the overlap of the rear and leading edges of their respective geographical distributions. At the same time, we characterized local environmental regimes, measuring seawater physical and chemical properties.

Towards the edge of their range, individuals from the leading edge species gradually reduced their shell length, metabolic rate and thermal response capacity, and increased carbonate content in their shells. Individuals of the rear edge species showed dissimilar responses between sites. Contrasting behavioural responses to experimental heating reconciled observations of an unintuitive higher maximal critical temperature and a smaller thermal safety margin for individuals of the rear edge populations. Physical–chemical characterization of seawater properties at the site located on the core of the upwelling centre showed extreme environmental conditions, with low oxygen concentration, high pCO2 and the episodic presence of corrosive seawater. These challenging environmental conditions were reflected in reduced growth for both species.

Main conclusions
We found different spatial patterns of phenotypic plasticity in two sister species around the leading and trailing edges of their distributions. Our results provide evidence that environmental conditions around large upwelling centres can maintain biogeographical breaks through metabolic constraints on the performance of calcifying organisms. Thus, local changes in seawater chemistry associated with coastal upwelling circulation emerge as a previously overlooked driver of marine range edges.

Continue reading ‘Phenotypic plasticity at the edge: contrasting population‐level responses at the overlap of the leading and rear edges of the geographical distribution of two Scurria limpets’

Transgenerational exposure to ocean acidification induces biochemical distress in a keystone amphipod species (Gammarus locusta)


  • A transgenerational ocean acidification exposure was performed in Gammarus locusta
  • Biomarkers of cellular damage, protein repair and oxidative stress were quantified
  • Within- and transgenerational oxidative damage occurred under high CO2
  • Oxidative stress in F0-proteome may impair offspring’ DNA efficiency repair system
  • Increased vulnerability of wild G. locusta populations under ocean acidification


Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are increasing at the fastest rate ever recorded, causing higher CO2 dissolution in the ocean, leading to a process known as ocean acidification (OA). Unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are reduced, they are expected to reach ~900 ppm by the century’s end, resulting in a 0.13-0.42 drop in the seawater pH levels. Since the transgenerational effects of high CO2 in marine organisms are still poorly understood at lower levels of biological organization (namely at the biochemical level), here we reared a key ecological relevant marine amphipod, Gammarus locusta, under control and high CO2 conditions for two generations. We measured several stress-related biochemical endpoints: i) oxidative damage [lipid peroxidation (LPO) and DNA damage]; ii) protein repair and removal mechanisms [heat shock proteins (HSPs) and ubiquitin (Ub)]; as well as iii) antioxidant responses [superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione s-transferase (GST)] and total antioxidant capacity (TAC). The present results support the premise that exposure to high CO2 is expected to decrease survival rates in this species and cause within- and transgenerational oxidative damage. More specifically, the predicted upsurge of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species seemed to overwhelm the stimulated amphipod antioxidant machinery, which proved insufficient in circumventing protein damage within the parents. Additionally, negative effects of OA are potentially being inherited by the offspring, since the oxidative stress imposed in the parent’s proteome appears to be restricting DNA repair mechanisms efficiency within the offspring’s. Thus, we argue that a transgenerational exposure of G. locusta could further increase vulnerability to OA and may endanger the fitness and sustainability of natural populations.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational exposure to ocean acidification induces biochemical distress in a keystone amphipod species (Gammarus locusta)’

Role of host genetics and heat tolerant algal symbionts in sustaining populations of the endangered coral Orbicella faveolata in the Florida Keys with ocean warming

Identifying which factors lead to coral bleaching resistance is a priority given the global decline of coral reefs with ocean warming. During the second year of back‐to‐back bleaching events in the Florida Keys in 2014 and 2015, we characterized key environmental and biological factors associated with bleaching resilience in the threatened reef‐building coral Orbicella faveolata. Ten reefs (five inshore, five offshore, 179 corals total) were sampled during bleaching (September 2015) and recovery (May 2016). Corals were genotyped with 2bRAD and profiled for algal symbiont abundance and type. O. faveolata at the inshore sites, despite higher temperatures, demonstrated significantly higher bleaching resistance and better recovery compared to offshore. The thermotolerant Durusdinium trenchii (formerly Symbiondinium trenchii) was the dominant endosymbiont type region‐wide during initial (78.0% of corals sampled) and final (77.2%) sampling; > 90% of the non‐bleached corals were dominated by D. trenchii. 2bRAD host genotyping found no genetic structure among reefs, but inshore sites showed a high level of clonality. While none of the measured environmental parameters were correlated with bleaching, 71% of variation in bleaching resistance and 73% of variation in the proportion of D. trenchii was attributable to differences between genets, highlighting the leading role of genetics in shaping natural bleaching patterns. Notably, D. trenchii was rarely dominant in O. faveolata from the Florida Keys in previous studies, even during bleaching. The region‐wide high abundance of D. trenchii was likely driven by repeated bleaching associated with the two warmest years on record for the Florida Keys (2014 and 2015). On inshore reefs in the upper Florida Keys, O. faveolata was most abundant, had the highest bleaching resistance, and contained the most corals dominated by D. trenchii, illustrating a causal link between heat tolerance and ecosystem resilience with global change.

Continue reading ‘Role of host genetics and heat tolerant algal symbionts in sustaining populations of the endangered coral Orbicella faveolata in the Florida Keys with ocean warming’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book