Impacts of Cyclic Hypoxia on Reproductive and Gene Expression Patterns in the Grass Shrimp: Field Versus Laboratory Comparison

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Identification of organisms able to act as biological indicators of hypoxia exposure is important given the increasing frequency of hypoxic events worldwide. Grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio, are ubiquitous estuarine residents in the southeastern US, where they commonly experience cyclic hypoxia. We hypothesized that reproductive and gene expression patterns of grass shrimp in cyclic hypoxic field sites relative to normoxic sites would be similar to previous results from cyclic hypoxia laboratory experiments showing differential up- and down-regulation of hypoxia-responsive genes. There were few differences in gene expression of indigenous shrimp collected during summer from two Gulf of Mexico estuarine systems [East Bay, FL (EB) and Weeks Bay, AL (WB)], although down-regulation of the gene coding for vitellogenin-1 corresponded with a decreased relative fecundity and fewer ovigerous females at cyclic hypoxic field sites, suggesting an overall impact on reproduction. The gene expression profiles of grass shrimp caged for 7 days in field sites differed by estuary, but few hypoxia-responsive genes identified in laboratory studies were differentially expressed in field shrimp. Overall, genes coding for protein synthesis, protein degradation, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and electron transport were mostly up-regulated in EB caged shrimp but generally down-regulated in WB caged shrimp and laboratory shrimp. Thus, caged grass shrimp from different bay systems exhibited profoundly different gene expression profiles. Such profiles may serve as sensitive bioindicators of differences in water quality, habitat quality or food resources among estuaries but are not effective as indicators of hypoxia exposure.

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Aquatic Sciences





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