Physiological plasticity, long term resistance or acclimation to temperature, in the Antarctic bivalve, Laternula elliptica
To further investigate the previously reported limited acclimation capacities of Antarctic marine stenotherms, the Antarctic mud clam, Laternula elliptica (King and Broderip, 1830–1831), was incubated at 3.0 °C for 89 days. The thermal windows of a suite of biochemical and physiological metrics that characterise tissue aerobic status, were then measured in response to acute temperature elevation (2–2.5 °C increase per week). To test if acclimation had occurred at the higher temperature, results were compared with published data, from the preceding year, for L. elliptica which had been incubated at ambient temperature (0.0 °C) and then subjected to the same acute temperature treatments. Incubation to 3.0 °C led to a temperature induced increase of tissue aerobic status (reduced intracellular cCO2 with increased O2 consumption, PLA (phospho-L-arginine) and ATP). At the highest acute temperature (7.5 °C) the increase in anaerobic pathways (summed acetate/succinate and propionate) was less after 3.0 °C than 0.0 °C incubation. No other metric shifted its reaction norm in response to acute temperature elevation and so whole animal acclimation had not occurred, even after 3 months at 3.0 °C. Combined with the constant mortality throughout the 3.0 °C incubation period, these data suggest that the recorded physiological changes were either the early stages of acclimation or, more likely, time limited resistance mechanisms.