bioEnergetics as predictors of whole-Animal Toxicity and Physiology in our future coastal habitats


Rafael TREVISAN & Danielle Ferraz MELLO

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Metabolic shifts are key to understanding animal reactions to the environment and trade-offs that might affect population growth and survival. Coastal animals are remarkedly known to thrive in harsh environmental conditions. However, end-of-the-century ecological conditions can impose a new multi-stress scenario that raises the concern of whether these animals can adapt their energy requirements to new global conditions. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify bioenergetic cellular mechanisms at the basis of future multi-stress adaptation for the sustainability of ecologically and economically important coastal species, which is the main objective of EcoATP. Our first aim is to use bioenergetic cellular markers to predict energy-limited tolerance and organismal fitness in the face of end-of-the-century multi-stress scenarios such as global warming and pollution (i.e., plastics and antifouling compounds). This project will combine bioenergetics mechanistic analysis from an in vitro approach (Pacific oyster cell culture model developed by Danielle Mello) with metabolic, developmental, and reproductive in vivo data on oyster embryos, juveniles, and adults (bioassays developed by Rafael Trevisan). These data will be combined within the Adverse Outcome Pathway framework, a strategy currently employed by environmental risk assessment agencies to translate complex mechanistic data into information that can be readily used by stakeholders. Our second aim is to improve oyster resilience to stress by boosting cellular bioenergetics using nature-derived compounds. Based on our previous experience using the natural compound curcumin to increase antioxidant defenses in oysters, we will investigate if curcumin can improve the energy metabolism of oyster immune cells, embryos, and juveniles and further test if these effects can improve their tolerance to pollutants and infectious diseases (Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome). Through our partnership with an aquaculture facility in Brazil, we will also explore oyster spat production improvements by curcumin. This aim will allow EcoATP to be a stepping stone to the use of natural metabolic boosters to promote ocean food production in the coming decades.

The team