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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 435:83-95 (2011)  -  DOI:

Effects of a simulated heat wave on photophysiology and gene expression of high- and low-latitude populations of Zostera marina

Gidon Winters1,*, Peter Nelle1, Birgit Fricke1, Gisep Rauch1, Thorsten B. H. Reusch1,2

1Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Hüfferstrasse 1, 48149 Münster, Germany
2Leibniz-Institut of Marine Sciences, IFM-GEOMAR, Department of Marine Ecology-Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes, Office Building West, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany

ABSTRACT: Climate models predict increases in frequency of summer heat waves. In Europe, such events have already caused declines in seagrass meadows, highlighting the importance of short-term responses of local communities to climate stress. Understanding the variability among populations along the European thermal gradient in response to heat waves is crucial for seagrass conservation and management. Using a mesocosm we compared effects of a simulated heat wave on the photophysiology of Zostera marina populations coming from low (43°N, Adriatic Sea) and high latitudes (56°N, North and Baltic Seas). Measurements before, during and up to 4 wk after the heat wave included photophysiological parameters derived from light response curves generated by PAM fluorometry and gene expression using qRT-PCR. In all 3 populations, initial exposures to thermal stress were characterized by increases in dark adapted effective quantum yield (Y0), maximum electron transfer rate of PSII (ETRmax) and slope of the light response curve (α), coinciding with upregulations of the gene superoxidase dismutase [Mn]. With continuation of the heat wave these initial effects disappeared, demonstrated by declines in Y0, ETRmax and α relative to controls. Z. marina from the Adriatic suffered from the simulated heat wave as much as its high-latitude counterparts. However, we also demonstrate slight photophysiological differences between the populations during the recovery phase, where performance of high-latitude populations continued declining even after water temperatures returned to control levels, while photochemical activity fully recovered in the Adriatic population. These results might draw the attention of future studies and seagrass conservation efforts.

KEY WORDS: Zostera marina · Global change · Heat wave · Thermal stress · Gene expression · Antioxidant · PAM fluorometry · Real time PCR

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Cite this article as: Winters G, Nelle P, Fricke B, Rauch G, Reusch TBH (2011) Effects of a simulated heat wave on photophysiology and gene expression of high- and low-latitude populations of Zostera marina. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 435:83-95.

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