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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 435:125-140 (2011)  -  DOI:

Byssus secretion of Mytilus galloprovincialis: effect of site at macro- and micro-geographical scales within Ría de Vigo (NW Spain)

Jose M. F. Babarro1,*, Emily Carrington2

1Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas CSIC, Eduardo Cabello 6, 36208 Vigo, Spain
2Friday Harbor Laboratories, Department of Biology, University of Washington, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250, USA

ABSTRACT: The effect of the abiotic environment on byssus tenacity and associated features was investigated for Mytilus galloprovincialis in the Ría de Vigo (NW Spain). The effect of site was examined at macro-geographical (outer exposed Cabo Estay vs. inner sheltered San Simón Ensenada sites) and micro-geographical (intertidal vs. subtidal locations) scales. Site significantly influenced byssus tenacity, shape and byssus thread diameter, whereas location did not. Qualitative analysis of the byssus corroborated the importance of site; mussels inhabiting the rougher outer Ría secreted stronger and stiffer threads regardless of location and had a higher potential to form cross-links or metal chelation in the byssal collagen to gain structural integrity when needed. When mussels were transplanted between exposed and sheltered sites, asymmetrical changes were observed in tenacity, endogenous indices, byssus morphology and mechanical properties after 3 mo. Individuals transferred from the sheltered to the exposed site shifted all variables, suggesting that mussels have a plastic response to rougher environments by increasing byssus size and mechanical integrity. In contrast, mussels transplanted from the exposed to the sheltered site shifted tenacity, endogenous indices and thread length but not thread diameter nor mechanical properties. In summary, we report the highly dynamic nature of the mussel ability to modify byssus tenacity when subjected to abrupt environmental changes. Mussels have the potential to change byssus diameter and mechanical properties to increase strength in stressful abiotic conditions, and can re-allocate energy for vital structures such as gonadal and soft tissue growth in more benign environments.

KEY WORDS: Mytilus galloprovincialis · Tenacity · Field · Byssus secretion · Abiotic environment · Tidal exposure · Plasticity

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Cite this article as: Babarro JMF, Carrington E (2011) Byssus secretion of Mytilus galloprovincialis: effect of site at macro- and micro-geographical scales within Ría de Vigo (NW Spain). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 435:125-140.

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