The Effect of Temperature Stress on Development and Heat-shock Protein Expression in Larval Green Sturgeon (Acipenser mirostris)
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Water temperature is an important environmental variable influencing the distribution and health of coldwater fishes such as the green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris. In this study, we investigated if larval sturgeon were able to tolerate or recover from acute, non-lethal temperature stress that commonly causes deformed notochords, and sought to identify the role of heat-shock proteins (hsp) in stress tolerance. The hsp response is one of the most important cellular mechanisms to prevent the damaging effects of thermal cellular stress, and differences in the ability to over-express hsps during stressful conditions may be associated with an organism’s vulnerability and the extent of thermal injury. In this study, newly hatched larvae were maintained at 17°C (control), or exposed to (a) 26°C for 3 d then maintained at 17°C until yolk-sac absorption or (b) 26°C until yolk-sac absorption. Individuals with deformed notochords were counted, and hsp60, 72, 78 and 89 were analyzed in both normal and deformed larvae by western blotting. Approximately 33% of fish developed curved notochords within the first 3 d of exposure to 26°C. After transfer to cool water 16.5% showed deformities at stage 45, suggesting a significant number of larvae had recovered. Hsp levels remained elevated for at least 9 days after termination of heat-exposure. Overall, percentage of deformed larvae, and hsp72/hsp78 levels were highest in fish continuously exposed to 26°C until yolk-sac absorption. Deformed individuals had significantly higher expression levels of hsp72 and hsp78, and lower hsp60 levels than normal larvae. We conclude that expression of hsp72 and hsp78 and potentially hsp60 are linked to phenotypic variation in the response and vulnerability of green sturgeon larvae to thermal stress.
KeywordsHeat-shock proteins Thermal stress Green sturgeon Larval development
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We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Yurok Tribal Council and the Yurok Fisheries Program for supplying us with broodstock fish. Gina Lee provided valuable assistance in the laboratory, and we are grateful for Daniel Markiewicz for help with statistical analyses. Additional thanks to the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture for use of their research facilities. This project was funded by the CalFed Bay-Delta Program, contract # ERP-02D-P57.
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