The Impact of Salinity and Dissolved Oxygen Regimes On Transcriptomic Immune Responses To Oil In Early Life Stage Fundulus grandis

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Understanding the effects of oil exposure on early life stage fish species is critical to fully assessing the environmental impacts of oil spills. Oil released from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill reached habitats where estuarine fish routinely spawn. In addition, estuaries are highly dynamic environments, therefore, fish in these areas are routinely exposed to varying salinity and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels, each of which are known to modulate transcriptional responses. Fish exposed to oil often display altered immune competence, and several studies have shown that Deepwater Horizon oil in particular causes modulation of various immune functions. However, few studies have directly examined how environmental parameters may affect oil-induced immunomodulation, particularly in early life stage fishes when the immune system is still developing. To this end, we examined transcriptional patterns of immune genes and pathways in Fundulus grandis larvae to various oil (0, 15 μg/L), salinity (3, 30 ppt), and DO (2.5, 6 mg/L) regimes in a fully factorial design. Our results suggest that immune pathways are generally activated in all treatment groups with the exception of the Low Salinity/No Oil/Hypoxia treatment where immune pathways are largely suppressed, and the High Salinity/No Oil/Hypoxia treatment where pathways are unchanged. The High Salinity/Oil/Hypoxia treatment had the largest number of enriched immune pathways (44 as defined by IPA and 43 as defined by ConsensusPathDB), indicating that oil under certain environmental conditions has the potential to further modulate immune-related genes, pathways, and responses in fish.

Publication Title

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part D: Genomics and Proteomics