Moderate reductions in dissolved oxygen may compromise performance in an ecologically-important estuarine invertebrate

Coastal ecosystems, including estuaries, are increasingly pressured by expanding hypoxic regions as a result of human activities such as increased release of nutrients and global warming. Hypoxia is often defined as oxygen concentrations below 2 mL O2 L−1. However, taxa vary markedly in their sensitivity to hypoxia and can be affected by a broad spectrum of low oxygen levels. To better understand how reduced oxygen availability impacts physiological and molecular processes in invertebrates, we investigated responses of an estuarine amphipod to an ecologically-relevant level of moderate hypoxia (~2.6 mL O2 L−1) or severe hypoxia (~1.3 mL O2 L−1). Moderate hypoxia elicited a reduction in aerobic scope, and widespread changes to gene expression, including upregulation of metabolic genes and stress proteins. Under severe hypoxia, a marked hyperventilatory response associated with maintenance of aerobic performance was accompanied by a muted transcriptional response. This included a return of metabolic genes to baseline levels of expression and downregulation of transcripts involved in protein synthesis, most of which indicate recourse to hypometabolism and/or physiological impairment. We conclude that adverse ecological effects may occur under moderate hypoxia through compromised individual performance and, therefore, even modest declines in future oxygen levels may pose a significant challenge to coastal ecosystems.

Details

Publication status:
Published
Author(s):
Authors: Collins, Michael, Tills, Oliver, Turner, Lucy M., Clark, Melody S., Spicer, John I., Truebano, Manuela

On this site: Melody Clark
Date:
17 July, 2019
Journal/Source:
Science of the Total Environment / 693
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.07.250