Intracellular pH and energy metabolism in the highly stenothermal Antarctic bivalve Limopsis marionensis as a function of ambient temperature
Changes in oxygen consumption, ammonia excretion and in the acid-base and energy status of various tissues were investigated in the cold stenothermal Antarctic bivalve, Limopsis marionensis, and compared to similar data in the limpet, Nacella concinna, for an assessment of thermal sensitivity. Oxygen consumption of L. marionensis varied between −1.5 and 2°C with a Q 10 of 2.2. Ammonia excretion could only be detected in animals exposed to elevated temperature for periods in excess of 45 days and close to death and it is interpreted as the onset of protein and amino acid catabolism with starvation under temperature stress. In L. marionensis any change in temperature as well as starvation stress at constant temperature induced a decrease in phospho-l-arginine and ATP levels. However, only temperature stress resulted in a drop in the Gibb's free energy change of ATP hydrolysis. Intracellular pH rose in all tissues during upward or downward temperature changes of only 1.5 or 2°C for 24 h with a concomitant trend to accumulate succinate and acetate in the tissues. These changes are seen to reflect disturbances of the tissue acid-base and energy status with any under- or overshoot in aerobic metabolic rate during a temperature decrease or increase. Elevated temperature at 2°C during 2 weeks of incubation resulted in continued net ATP depletion, at low levels of ATP free energy. This indicates long-term stress, which was also mirrored in the inability to establish a new steady-state mean rate of oxygen consumption. Incubation at even higher temperatures of 4 and 7°C led to an aggravation of energetic stress and transition to an intracellular acidosis, as well as a fall in oxygen consumption. In N. concinna a drop in energy levels was also visible at 2°C but was compensated for during long-term incubation. In conclusion, L. marionensis will be able to compensate for a temperature change only in a very narrow range whereas the thermal tolerance window is much wider in N. concinna. The inability of the metabolic rate to rise continually and the concomitant transition to anaerobic metabolism and long-term energetic stress characterize the upper critical temperature. Stenothermality is discussed, not only as reflecting the permanent and very stable low temperature in the natural environment, but also regarding differences in the level of activity and aerobic scope.