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Ocean acidification impacts on sperm mitochondrial membrane potential bring sperm swimming behaviour near its tipping point

Journal article
Authors P. Schlegel
M. T. Binet
Jonathan N. Havenhand
C. J. Doyle
J. E. Williamson
Published in Journal of Experimental Biology
Volume 218
Issue 7
Pages 1084-1090
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
Pages 1084-1090
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.114900
Keywords CO2, Reproduction, Fertilization kinetics, Resilience, Sperm metabolism, SEA-URCHIN SPERM, SPAWNING MARINE INVERTEBRATE, NEAR-FUTURE LEVELS, FERTILIZATION KINETICS, INTRACELLULAR-PH, GAMETE PLASTICITY, ACROSOME, REACTION, INTERNAL PH, MOTILITY, ENVIRONMENT, Biology
Subject categories Biological Sciences

Abstract

Broadcast spawning marine invertebrates are susceptible to environmental stressors such as climate change, as their reproduction depends on the successful meeting and fertilization of gametes in the water column. Under near-future scenarios of ocean acidification, the swimming behaviour of marine invertebrate sperm is altered. We tested whether this was due to changes in sperm mitochondrial activity by investigating the effects of ocean acidification on sperm metabolism and swimming behaviour in the sea urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii. We used a fluorescent molecular probe (JC-1) and flow cytometry to visualize mitochondrial activity (measured as change in mitochondrial membrane potential, MMP). Sperm MMP was significantly reduced in Delta pH-0.3 (35% reduction) and Delta pH-0.5 (48% reduction) treatments, whereas sperm swimming behaviour was less sensitive with only slight changes (up to 11% decrease) observed overall. There was significant inter-individual variability in responses of sperm swimming behaviour and MMP to acidified seawater. We suggest it is likely that sperm exposed to these changes in pH are close to their tipping point in terms of physiological tolerance to acidity. Importantly, substantial inter-individual variation in responses of sperm swimming to ocean acidification may increase the scope for selection of resilient phenotypes, which, if heritable, could provide a basis for adaptation to future ocean acidification.

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