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Parasitic infection alters the physiological response of a marine gastropod to ocean acidification

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 May 2016

Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand


Increased hydrogen ion concentration and decreased carbonate ion concentration in seawater are the most physiologically relevant consequences of ocean acidification (OA). Changes to either chemical species may increase the metabolic cost of physiological processes in marine organisms, and reduce the energy available for growth, reproduction and survival. Parasitic infection also increases the energetic demands experienced by marine organisms, and may reduce host tolerance to stressors associated with OA. This study assessed the combined metabolic effects of parasitic infection and OA on an intertidal gastropod, Zeacumantus subcarinatus. Oxygen consumption rates and tissue glucose content were recorded in snails infected with one of three trematode parasites, and an uninfected control group, maintained in acidified (7·6 and 7·4 pH) or unmodified (8·1 pH) seawater. Exposure to acidified seawater significantly altered the oxygen consumption rates and tissue glucose content of infected and uninfected snails, and there were clear differences in the magnitude of these changes between snails infected with different species of trematode. These results indicate that the combined effects of OA and parasitic infection significantly alter the energy requirements of Z. subcarinatus, and that the species of the infecting parasite may play an important role in determining the tolerance of marine gastropods to OA.

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