High economic value and excellent characteristics for breeding have enabled the Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) to become one of the major aquaculture species in the world.

However, continuous water temperatures above 35°C lead to high shrimp mortality rates. As a result, a research team led by Prof LI Fuhua from the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOCAS) recently investigated the mechanisms of L. vannamei in response to such high temperatures. They say that their research has provided new insights into the energy reallocation strategy in L. vannamei in response to heat-stress.

According to the researchers, most previous studies about heat stress were limited to single tissues or few indicators. However, the spatial network of various tissues cooperation and its relationship with energy in response to heat stress remained unclear.

In this study, the researchers conducted a comparative and sound transcriptomic analysis on three tissues of shrimp under heat stress, including hepatopancreas, gill and muscle. They found that energy-related genes were the main change genes, which inferred that energy flux might be reallocated among different tissues under heat stress.

“Understanding the cooperation of various tissues of animals in response to heat stress is the basis for clarifying the regulation mechanism of different species under heat stress,” said Dr Zhang Xiaoxi, first author of the study, in a press release.

“We find that different tissues may cooperate with each other simultaneously via energy reallocation in response to heat stress. Less energy was channeled into protein turnover in gill and hepatopancreas for minimally life sustaining, and more energy was required for muscle to get out of adverse circumstances,” said co-author Prof Zhang Xiaojun.

“This work not only provides a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanism of L. vannamei in response to high temperature, but also lays the foundation of mining thermotolerance genes and proposing effective strategies to cope with the high-temperature environment,” added Prof LI.

Further details

The results of the study were published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety on May. 5. The research was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China, China Postdoctoral Science Foundation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and China Agriculture Research System.

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