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J Exp Biol. 2003 Jan;206(Pt 1):195-207.

Metabolic plasticity and critical temperatures for aerobic scope in a eurythermal marine invertebrate (Littorina saxatilis, Gastropoda: Littorinidae) from different latitudes.

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  • 1Lab. Ecophysiology and Ecotoxicology, Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Columbusstr., 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany. isokolov@email.uncc.edu


Effects of latitudinal cold adaptation and cold acclimation on metabolic rates and aerobic scope were studied in the eurythermal marine gastropod Littorina saxatilis from temperate North Sea and sub-arctic White Sea areas. Animals were acclimated for 6-8 weeks at control temperature (13 degrees C) or at 4 degrees C, and their respiration rates were measured during acute temperature change (1-1.5 degrees C h(-1)) in a range between 0 degrees C and 32 degrees C. In parallel, the accumulation of anaerobic end products and changes in energy status were monitored. Starting from 0 degrees C, aerobic metabolic rates of L. saxatilis rose quickly with increasing temperatures up to a point at or slightly above the respective acclimation temperature. Beyond this value, thermal sensitivity of oxygen consumption rate V((O(2))) greatly decreased in a wide, 15 degrees C range of experimental temperatures. This change in metabolic regulation was also reflected in the activation energy of aerobic metabolism (E(a)), which was approximately seven times lower at temperatures above Arrhenius breakpoint temperatures (ABTs) than at temperatures below ABTs. Warming progressively led to a discrepancy between energy demand and energy production, as demonstrated by a decrease in the levels of high-energy phosphates [phosho-L-arginine (PLA) and ATP], and resulted in the onset of anaerobiosis at critically high temperatures, indicating a limitation of aerobic scope. The comparison of aerobic and anaerobic metabolic rates in L. saxatilis in air and water suggests that the heat-induced onset of anaerobiosis is due to the insufficient oxygen supply to tissues at high temperatures. Cold acclimation led to an increase in aerobic metabolic rates and a considerable downward shift of the upper critical temperature in North Sea L. saxatilis but not in White Sea L. saxatilis. Limited metabolic plasticity in response to cold acclimation in sub-arctic White Sea snails as compared with their temperate North Sea counterparts suggests that metabolic depression occurs during overwintering under the more extreme winter conditions at the White Sea.

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