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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


The area and timing of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill highlight the need to study oil and hypoxia exposure in early life stage fishes. Though critical to health, little research has targeted the effect of oil and hypoxia exposure on developing immune systems. To this end, we exposed sheepshead minnows (Cyprinodon variegatus) at three early life stages: embryonic; post-hatch; and post-larval, to a high energy water accommodated fraction (HEWAF) of oil, hypoxia, or both for 48 hours. We performed RNAseq to understand how exposures alter expression of immune transcripts and pathways. Under control conditions, the embryonic to post-hatch comparison (first transition) had a greater number of significantly regulated immune pathways than the second transition (post-hatch to post-larval). The addition of oil had little effect in the first transition, however, hypoxia elicited changes in cellular and humoral immune responses. In the second transition, oil exposure significantly altered many immune pathways (43), and while hypoxia altered few pathways, it did induce a unique signature of generally suppressing immune pathways. These data suggest that timing of exposure to oil and/or hypoxia matters, and underscores the need to further investigate the impacts of multiple stressors on immune system development in early life stage fishes.

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Scientific Reports



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