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Do trace metal contamination and parasitism influence the activities of the bioturbating mud shrimp Upogebia cf. pusilla?

Dairain, Annabelle, de Montaudouin, Xavier, Gonzalez, Patrice, Ciutat, Aurélie, Baudrimont, Magalie, Maire, Olivier, Legeay, Alexia
Aquatic toxicology 2018 v.204 pp. 46-58
anthropogenic activities, bioaccumulation, bioturbation, cadmium, ecosystem engineers, gene expression, parasites, parasitism, physiology, pollutants, pollution, sediments, shrimp, trace elements
Mud shrimp are considered as among the most influential ecosystem engineers in marine soft bottom environments because of their significant bioturbation activity and their high density. These organisms play a key role on the physical structure of sediments through intense sediment reworking activity and also deeply influence geochemical properties of sediments via frequent bioirrigation events. The influence that mud shrimp have on the environment is related to the magnitude of bioturbation processes and subsequently depends on their physiological condition. In natural environments, several factors act together and influence the well-being of organisms. Among them, the deleterious role of parasites on the physiology and the behavior of their host is well established. Aquatic organisms are also subject to pollutants released by anthropogenic activities. However, the effect of both stressors on the fitness and bioturbation activity of mud shrimp has never been investigated yet.We conducted a 14-day ex-situ experiment to evaluate the influence of trace metal contamination (cadmium Cd) and parasitism infestation on the gene expression (molecular endpoint) and sediment reworking activity (behavioral endpoint) of the mud shrimp Upogebia cf. pusilla. At completion, mud shrimp exhibited substantial Cd bioaccumulation, with parasitized organisms showing a significantly lower contaminant burden than unparasitized specimens. Cadmium contamination induces modifications of gene expression in both unparasitized and parasitized organisms. We report an antagonistic effect of both stressors on gene expression, which cannot be fully explained by a lower Cd bioaccumulation. At the behaviour level, parasitism seems to reduce the sediment reworking activity of mud shrimp, while Cd contamination appears to stimulate this activity. This study highlights that the effects of multiple stressors may be quite different from the effects of each stressor considered individually. It should also motivate for more studies evaluating the influence of multiple stressors on different endpoints encompassing various levels of organization.