Unfortunately, the blue crab population has been declining in recent years under the assault of viruses, bacteria and man-made contaminants. The signs of the attack often are subtle, so researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the College of Charleston (CofC) are at work trying to identify the clues that will finger specific, yet elusive, culprits.
Pathogens and pollutants impair the blue crab’s metabolic processes, the chemical reactions that produce energy for cells. These stresses should cause tell-tale changes in the levels of metabolites, small chemical compounds created during metabolism. Working at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) in Charleston, S.C., the NIST/CofC research team is using a technology similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify and quantify the metabolites that increase in quantity under common environmental stresses to blue crabs—metabolites that could be used as biomarkers to identify the specific sources.
In a recent paper in Metabolomics,* the HML research team describes how it used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study challenges to one specific metabolic process in blue crabs: oxygen uptake. First, the researchers simulated an environmentally acquired bacterial infection by injecting crabs with the bacterium Vibrio campbellii. This pathogen impairs the crab’s ability to incorporate oxygen during metabolism. Using NMR spectroscopy to observe the impact on metabolite levels, the researchers found that the yield of glucose, considered a reliable indicator of mild oxygen starvation in crustaceans, was raised.
In a second experiment, the HML team mimicked a chemical pollutant challenge by injecting blue crabs with a chemical** known to inhibit oxidative phosphorylation, a metabolic process that manufactures energy. This time, the metabolite showing up in response to stress was lactate, the same compound seen when our muscles need energy and must take in oxygen to get more produced. A rise in the amount of lactate proved that the crabs were increasing their oxygen uptake in response to the chemical exposure.
“Having the glucose and lactate biomarkers—and the NMR spectroscopy technique to accurately detect them—is important because the blue crab’s responses to mild, non-lethal metabolic stresses are often so subtle that they can be missed by traditional analyses,” says Dan Bearden, corresponding author on the HML paper.
The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation.
The HML is a partnership of governmental and academic agencies including NIST, NOAA’s National Ocean Service, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.
* T.B. Schock, D.A. Stancyk, L. Thibodeaux, K.G. Burnett, L.E. Burnett, A.F.B. Boroujerdi and D.W. Bearden. Metabolomic analysis of Atlantic blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, hemolymph following oxidative stress. Metabolomics, Published online Jan. 20, 2010, DOI 10.1007/s11306-009-0194-y.
** 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP)
Michael E. Newman, email@example.com, (301) 975-3025
Michael E. Newman | Newswise Science News
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences