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Cell Stress Chaperones. 2011 Nov;16(6):621-32. doi: 10.1007/s12192-011-0272-8. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Heat-shock response and antioxidant defense during air exposure in Patagonian shallow-water limpets from different climatic habitats.

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Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany.


Climate warming involves not only a rise of air temperature means, but also more frequent heat waves in many regions on earth, and is predicted to intensify physiological stress especially in extremely changeable habitats like the intertidal. We investigated the heat-shock response (HSR) and enzymatic antioxidant defense levels of Patagonian shallow-water limpets, adapted to distinct tidal exposure conditions in the sub- and intertidal. Limpets were sampled in the temperate Northern Patagonia and the subpolar Magellan region. Expression levels of two Hsp70 genes and activities of the antioxidants superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) were measured in submerged and 2- and 12-h air-exposed specimens. Air-exposed Patagonian limpets showed a tiered HSR increasing from South to North on the latitudinal gradient and from high to low shore levels on a tidal gradient. SOD activities in the Magellan region correlated with the tidal rhythm and were higher after 2 and 12 h when the tide was low at the experimental site compared to the 6 h value taken at high tide. This pattern was observed in intertidal and subtidal specimens, although subtidal individuals are little affected by tides. Our study shows that long-term thermal adaptation shapes the HSR in limpets, while the oxidative stress response is linked to the tidal rhythm. Close to the warm border of their distribution range, energy expenses to cope with stress might become overwhelming and represent one cause why the limpets are unable to colonize the shallow intertidal zone.

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