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Research Project: Genetic Improvement of North American Atlantic Salmon and the Eastern Oyster for Aquaculture Production

Location: National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center

Title: Gene expression signatures for physiological resilience of sea urchin larva to food deprivation

item LI, NING - University Of Southern California
item Griffith, Andrew
item MANAHAN, DONAL - University Of Southern California

Submitted to: Molecular Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/17/2023
Publication Date: 8/30/2023
Citation: Li, N., Griffith, A.W., Manahan, D. 2023. Gene expression signatures for physiological resilience of sea urchin larva to food deprivation. Molecular Ecology.

Interpretive Summary: Food limitation represents a significant bottleneck for the early development of marine larvae. Here we asses physiological strategies that sea urchin larvae utilize to overcome severe food limitation. Findings reveal unique strategies employed by marine invertebrate larvae to cope with nutrition limitation as well as identifies potential biomarkers for larval health in altered environments.

Technical Abstract: A fundamental question in ecophysiology is how organisms survive food deprivation. Variability in phenology of food availability in the pelagic ocean impacts early life-history stages of animals (larval forms). To address this question, an integrated biological approach was undertaken to determine mechanisms of resilience to food deprivation. We studied larvae of the sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus), an important model species spanning marine ecology and developmental biology. We show that food-deprived larvae do not utilize their remaining endogenous energy reserves of lipid and protein to sustain their metabolic rate. To identify mechanisms of resilience that maintain physiological state and the ability of larvae to recover from nutritional deprivation, a suite of molecular biological, biochemical, physiological, and whole-organism measurements was completed to identify signatures (biomarkers) at the level of an individual larva. We demonstrate that changes in nutrition-responsive gene expression leads to the identification of a biomarker (a putative amino acid transporter) that can be quantified in individual larvae experiencing continuous nutritional stress. This advance in application of gene expression technology offers a novel approach to determine the ecophysiological state of field-collected larvae