Cellular stress responses to chronic heat shock and shell damage in temperate Mya truncata

Victoria A. Sleight* (Corresponding Author), Lloyd S. Peck, Elisabeth A. Dyrynda, Valerie J. Smith, Melody S. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Acclimation, via phenotypic flexibility, is a potential means for a fast response to climate change. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning phenotypic flexibility can provide a fine-scale cellular understanding of how organisms acclimate. In the last 30 years, Mya truncata populations around the UK have faced an average increase in sea surface temperature of 0.7 °C
and further warming of between 1.5 and 4 °C, in all marine regions adjacent to the UK, is predicted by the end of the century. Hence, data are required on the ability of M. truncata to acclimate to physiological stresses, and most notably, chronic increases in temperature. Animals in the present study were exposed to chronic heat-stress for 2 months prior to shell damage and subsequently, only 3, out of 20 damaged individuals, were able to repair their shells within 2 weeks. Differentially expressed genes (between control and damaged animals) were functionally enriched with processes relating to cellular stress, the immune
response and biomineralisation. Comparative transcriptomics highlighted genes, and more broadly molecular mechanisms, that are likely to be pivotal in this lack of acclimation. This study demonstrates that discovery-led transcriptomic profiling of animals during stress-response experiments can shed light on the complexity of biological processes and changes within organisms that
can be more difficult to detect at higher levels of biological organisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1017
Number of pages15
JournalCell Stress & Chaperones
Early online date12 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

VAS was funded by a NERC DTG studentship (Project Reference: NE/J500173/1) to the British Antarctic Survey. MSC and LSP were financed by NERC core funding to the British Antarctic Survey. We would like to thank Elizabeth M. Harper for advice on M. truncata distributions, shell structure and repair processes; the dive team, and many associated helpers, at the NERC National Facility for
Scientific Diving at Oban for animal collection; both Andrew Mogg and Kim Last at the Scottish Association of Marine Sciences for kindly overseeing animal husbandry during animal holding and acclimation.


  • mollusc
  • bivalve
  • transcriptomics
  • reactive oxygen species
  • immunology
  • biomineralisation
  • Heat shock proteins


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