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ABSTRACT Physiology defines individual responses to global climate change and species distributions across environments. Physiological responses are driven by temperature on three time scales: acute, acclimatory and evolutionary. Acutely, passive temperature effects often dictate an expected 2-fold increase in metabolic processes for every 10°C change in temperature (Q10). Yet, these acute responses often are mitigated through acclimation within an individual or evolutionary adaptation within populations over time. Natural selection can influence both responses and often reduces interindividual variation towards an optimum. However, this interindividual physiological variation is not well characterized. Here, we quantified responses to a 16°C temperature difference in six physiological traits across nine thermally distinct Fundulus heteroclitus populations. These traits included whole-animal metabolism (WAM), critical thermal maximum (CTmax) and substrate-specific cardiac metabolism measured in approximately 350 individuals. These traits exhibited high variation among both individuals and populations. Thermal sensitivity (Q10) was determined, specifically as the acclimated Q10, in which individuals were both acclimated and assayed at each temperature. The interindividual variation in Q10 was unexpectedly large: ranging from 0.6 to 5.4 for WAM. Thus, with a 16°C difference, metabolic rates were unchanged in some individuals, while in others they were 15-fold higher. Furthermore, a significant portion of variation was related to habitat temperature. Warmer populations had a significantly lower Q10 for WAM and CTmax after acclimation. These data suggest that individual variation in thermal sensitivity reflects different physiological strategies to respond to temperature variation, providing many different adaptive responses to changing environments.more » « less
Abstract Physiological trait variation underlies health, responses to global climate change, and ecological performance. Yet, most physiological traits are complex, and we have little understanding of the genes and genomic architectures that define their variation. To provide insight into the genetic architecture of physiological processes, we related physiological traits to heart and brain mRNA expression using a weighted gene co-expression network analysis. mRNA expression was used to explain variation in six physiological traits (whole animal metabolism (WAM), critical thermal maximum (CT max ), and four substrate specific cardiac metabolic rates (CaM)) under 12 °C and 28 °C acclimation conditions. Notably, the physiological trait variations among the three geographically close (within 15 km) and genetically similar F. heteroclitus populations are similar to those found among 77 aquatic species spanning 15–20° of latitude (~ 2,000 km). These large physiological trait variations among genetically similar individuals provide a powerful approach to determine the relationship between mRNA expression and heritable fitness related traits unconfounded by interspecific differences. Expression patterns explained up to 82% of metabolic trait variation and were enriched for multiple signaling pathways known to impact metabolic and thermal tolerance ( e.g. , AMPK, PPAR, mTOR, FoxO, and MAPK) but also contained several unexpected pathways ( e.g. , apoptosis, cellular senescence), suggesting that physiological trait variation is affected by many diverse genes.more » « less
Environmental warming is associated with reductions in ectotherm body sizes, suggesting that larger individuals may be more vulnerable to climate change. The mechanisms driving size-specific vulnerability to temperature are unknown but are required to finetune predictions of fisheries productivity and size-structure community responses to climate change. We explored the potential metabolic and cardiac mechanisms underlying these body size vulnerability trends in a eurythermal fish, barred surfperch. We acutely exposed surfperch across a large size range (5–700 g) to four ecologically relevant temperatures (16 °C, 12 °C, 20 °C, and 22 °C) and subsequently, measured their metabolic capacity (absolute and factorial aerobic scopes, maximum and resting metabolic rates; AAS, FAS, MMR, RMR). Additionally, we estimated the fish’s cardiac thermal tolerance by measuring their maximum heart rates (
fHmax) across acutely increasing temperatures. Barred surfperch had parallel hypoallometric scaling of MMR and RMR (exponent 0.81) and a weaker hypoallometric scaling of fHmax(exponent − 0.05) across all test temperatures. In contrast to our predictions, the fish’s aerobic capacity was maintained across sizes and acute temperatures, and larger fish had greater cardiac thermal tolerance than smaller fish. These results demonstrate that thermal performance may be limited by different physiological constraints depending on the size of the animal and species of interest.
Abstract Background The teleost fish Fundulus heteroclitus inhabit estuaries heavily polluted with persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals. While embryos of parents from polluted sites are remarkably resistant to toxic sediment and develop normally, embryos of parents from relatively clean estuaries, when treated with polluted sediment extracts, are developmentally delayed, displaying deformities characteristic of pollution-induced embryotoxicity. To gain insight into parental effects on sensitive and resistant phenotypes during late organogenesis, we established sensitive, resistant, and crossed embryo families using five female and five male parents from relatively clean and predominantly PAH-polluted estuaries each, measured heart rates, and quantified individual embryo expression of 179 metabolic genes. Results Pollution-induced embryotoxicity manifested as morphological deformities, significant developmental delays, and altered cardiac physiology was evident among sensitive embryos resulting from crosses between females and males from relatively clean estuaries. Significantly different heart rates among several geographically unrelated populations of sensitive, resistant, and crossed embryo families during late organogenesis and pre-hatching suggest site-specific adaptive cardiac physiology phenotypes relative to pollution exposure. Metabolic gene expression patterns (32 genes, 17.9%, at p < 0.05; 11 genes, 6.1%, at p < 0.01) among the embryo families indicate maternal pollutant deposition in the eggs and parental effects on gene expression and metabolic alterations. Conclusion Heart rate differences among sensitive, resistant, and crossed embryos is a reliable phenotype for further explorations of adaptive mechanisms. While metabolic gene expression patterns among embryo families are suggestive of parental effects on several differentially expressed genes, a definitive adaptive signature and metabolic cost of resistant phenotypes is unclear and shows unexpected sensitive-resistant crossed embryo expression profiles. Our study highlights physiological and metabolic gene expression differences during a critical embryonic stage among pollution sensitive, resistant, and crossed embryo families, which may contribute to underlying resistance mechanisms observed in natural F. heteroclitus populations living in heavily contaminated estuaries.more » « less
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