Cellular stress responses to chronic heat shock and shell damage in temperate Mya truncata
Acclimation, via phenotypic flexibility, is a potential means for a fast response to climate change. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning phenotypic flexibility can provide a fine-scale cellular understanding of how organisms acclimate. In the last 30 years, Mya truncata populations around the UK have faced an average increase in sea surface temperature of 0.7 °C and further warming of between 1.5 and 4 °C, in all marine regions adjacent to the UK, is predicted by the end of the century. Hence, data are required on the ability of M. truncata to acclimate to physiological stresses, and most notably, chronic increases in temperature. Animals in the present study were exposed to chronic heat-stress for 2 months prior to shell damage and subsequently, only 3, out of 20 damaged individuals, were able to repair their shells within 2 weeks. Differentially expressed genes (between control and damaged animals) were functionally enriched with processes relating to cellular stress, the immune response and biomineralisation. Comparative transcriptomics highlighted genes, and more broadly molecular mechanisms, that are likely to be pivotal in this lack of acclimation. This study demonstrates that discovery-led transcriptomic profiling of animals during stress-response experiments can shed light on the complexity of biological processes and changes within organisms that can be more difficult to detect at higher levels of biological organisation.
Authors: Sleight, Victoria A., Peck, Lloyd S., Dyrynda, Elisabeth A., Smith, Valerie J., Clark, Melody S.