, Volume 146, Issue 5, pp 985-993
Date: 22 Dec 2004

Thermotolerance and heat-shock protein expression in Northeastern Pacific Nucella species with different biogeographical ranges

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Abstract

We investigated physiological traits responsible for determining the tide-height and latitudinal distributions of Northeastern Pacific Nucella congeners. First, we determined the thermotolerances of two species of intertidal dogwhelks, N. ostrina and N. canaliculata, which co-occur on the Oregon coast. We found that N. ostrina, which are distributed higher on the shore, and thus experience higher habitat temperatures, than N. canaliculata, had correspondingly higher heat-coma temperatures. Second, we acclimated individuals of all five Northeastern Pacific Nucella congeners to a common temperature and determined their thermotolerances, measured as recovery from thermal exposure, after a 5-day, 3-week, and 7-week acclimation period. The south-latitude (N. emarginata) and mid-latitude (N. ostrina) high-intertidal species were more thermotolerant than the mid-latitude low-intertidal (N. canaliculata and N. lamellosa) and north-latitude high-intertidal (N. lima) species. The results of these two experiments suggest that temperature plays a role in determining the tide-height and latitudinal distributions of these Nucella species. Finally, we measured total and inducible levels of an evolutionarily conserved and ecologically relevant protein, the 70-kDa heat-shock protein (Hsp70), which has been found to confer thermotolerance in model laboratory organisms. The results showed that the level of total, not stress inducible, Hsp70 was a better predictor of thermotolerance and that there were species-specific differences in the relationship between Hsp70 expression and thermotolerance. We suggest that Hsp70 expression may be important in conferring thermotolerance in Nucella species in nature and that higher levels of molecular chaperones may underlie increased thermotolerance between conspecifics.

Communicated by P.W. Sammarco, Chauvin