Heat tolerance and gene expression responses to heat stress in threespine sticklebacks from ecologically divergent environments

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Ectothermic animals like fishes are extremely dependent on temperature, as they are not able to change body temperature physiologically. When populations are found in isolated water bodies such as small lakes they will have to respond to stressful high temperatures by behavioral avoidance, phenotypic plasticity or microevolutionary change. We analyzed threespine sticklebacks from two large and two small lakes, representing different isolated populations. We determined maximum critical thermal limits (CTmax) and the associated gene expression responses in three heat shock (hsp60, hsp70, hsp90) and two key metabolic (idh2, fbp2) genes at ecologically relevant moderate heat stress (26 degrees C) as well as at the critical thermal limit (CTmax). CTmax showed slight variation across populations with no strong indication of local adaptation. Likewise, there was no strong evidence for local adaptation at the level of gene expression. The expression of the metabolic genes indicated a shift from aerobic towards anaerobic energy production with extreme heat stress. We conclude that threespine sticklebacks do not show severe stress during the warmest temperatures they are likely to encounter during current temperature regimes in Denmark, and following this show no sign of local adaptation even in small, isolated water bodies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
Volume75
Pages (from-to)88-96
Number of pages9
ISSN0306-4565
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

    Research areas

  • Climate change, Thermal adaptation, QPCR, CTmax, LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS, CLIMATE-CHANGE, THERMAL TOLERANCE, GASTEROSTEUS-ACULEATUS, FRESH-WATER, ATLANTIC SALMON, EVOLUTIONARY RESPONSES, FUNDULUS-HETEROCLITUS, ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION, OXYGEN LIMITATION

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