Differential gene expression patterns related to lipid metabolism in response to ocean acidification in larvae and juveniles of Atlantic cod
Elevated environmental carbon dioxide (pCO2) levels have been found to cause organ damage in the early life stages of different commercial fish species, including Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). To illuminate the underlying mechanisms causing pathologies in the intestines, the kidney, the pancreas and the liver in response to elevated pCO2, we examined related gene expression patterns in Atlantic cod reared for two months under three different pCO2 regimes: 380 μatm (control), 1800 μatm (medium) and 4200 μatm (high). We extracted RNA from whole fish sampled during the larval (32 dph) and early juvenile stage (46 dph) for relative expression analysis of 18 different genes related to essential metabolic pathways. At 32 dph, larvae subjected to the medium treatment displayed an up-regulation of genes mainly associated with fatty acid and glycogen synthesis (GYS2, 6PGL, ACoA, CPTA1, FAS and PPAR1b). Larvae exposed to the high pCO2 treatment upregulated fewer but similar genes (6PGL, ACoA and PPAR1b,). These data suggest stress-induced alterations in the lipid and fatty acid metabolism and a disrupted lipid homeostasis in larvae, providing a mechanistic link to the findings of lipid droplet overload in the liver and organ pathologies. At 46 dph, no significant differences in gene expression were detected, confirming a higher resilience of juveniles in comparison to larvae when exposed to elevated pCO2 up to 4200 μatm.
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