Biology

Mitochondrial thermo-sensitivity in invasive and native freshwater mussels [RESEARCH ARTICLE]




Georges Hraoui, Stefano Bettinazzi, Andree D. Gendron, Daniel Boisclair, and Sophie Breton

Climate change is impacting many, if not all, forms of life. Increases in extreme temperature fluctuations and average temperatures can cause stress, particularly in aquatic sessile ectotherms such as freshwater mussels. However, some species seem to thrive more than others in face of temperature-related stressors. Thermal tolerance may for example explain invasive species success. It is also known that mitochondria can play a key role in setting an ectothermic species’ thermal tolerance. In this study, we aimed to characterize the mitochondrial thermo-tolerance in invasive and endemic freshwater mussels. With the use of high-resolution respirometry, we analyzed the mitochondrial respiration of two freshwater bivalve species exposed to a broad range of temperatures. We noticed that the invasive dreissenid Dreissena bugensis possessed a less thermo-tolerant mitochondrial metabolism than the endemic unionid Elliptio complanata. This lack of tolerance was linked with a more noticeable aerobic metabolic depression at elevated temperatures. This decrease in mitochondrial metabolic activity was also linked with an increase in leak oxygen consumption as well as a stable maintenance of the activity of cytochrome c oxidase in both species. These findings may be associated both with species’ life history characteristics, as D. bugensis is more adapted to unstable habitats, in which selection pressures for resistance adaptations are reduced. Our findings add to the growing body of literature characterizing the mitochondrial metabolism of many aquatic ectotherms in our changing world.

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