Piscidins constitute a family of cationic antimicrobial peptides that are thought to play an important role in the innate immune response of teleosts. On the one hand they show a remarkable diversity, which indicates that they are shaped by positive selection, but on the other hand they are ancient and have specific targets, suggesting that they are constrained by purifying selection. Until now piscidins had only been found in fish species from the superorder Acanthopterygii but we have recently identified a piscidin gene in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), thus showing that these antimicrobial peptides are not restricted to evolutionarily modern teleosts. Nucleotide diversity was much higher in the regions of the piscidin gene that code for the mature peptide and its pro domain than in the signal peptide. Maximum likelihood analyses with different evolution models revealed that the piscidin gene is under positive selection. Charge or hydrophobicity-changing amino acid substitutions observed in positively selected sites within the mature peptide influence its amphipathic structure and can have a marked effect on its function. This diversification might be associated with adaptation to new habitats or rapidly evolving pathogens.
Piscidins are antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that play important roles in helping fish resist pathogenic infections. Through comparisons of tilapia EST clones, the coding sequences of five piscidin-like AMPs (named TP1∼5) of Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, were determined. The complete piscidin coding sequences of TP1, -2, -3, -4, and -5 were respectively composed of 207, 234, 231, 270, and 195 bases, and each contained a translated region of 68, 77, 76, 89, and 64 amino acids. The tissue-specific, Vibrio vulnificus stimulation-specific, and Streptococcus agalactiae stimulation-specific expressions of TP2, -3, and -4 mRNA were determined by a comparative RT-PCR. Results of the tissue distribution analysis revealed high expression levels of TP2 mRNA in the skin, head kidneys, liver, and spleen. To study bacterial stimulation, S. agalactiae (SA47) was injected, and the TP4 transcript was upregulated by >13-fold (compared to the wild-type (WT) control, without injection) and was 60-fold upregulated (compared to the WT control, without injection) 24 h after the S. agalactiae (SA47) injection in the spleen and gills. Synthesized TP3 and TP4 peptides showed antimicrobial activities against several bacteria in this study, while the synthesized TP1, -2, and -5 peptides did not. The synthesized TP2, -3, and -4 peptides showed hemolytic activities and synthesized TP3 and TP4 peptides inhibited tilapia ovary cell proliferation with a dose-dependent effect. In summary, the amphiphilic α-helical cationic peptides of TP3 and TP4 may represent novel and potential antimicrobial agents for further peptide drug development.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are small, usually cationic peptides, which permeabilize bacterial membranes. Understanding their mechanism of action might help design better antibiotics. Using an implicit membrane model, modified to include pores of different shapes, we show that four AMPs (alamethicin, melittin, a magainin analogue, MG-H2, and piscidin 1) bind more strongly to membrane pores, consistent with the idea that they stabilize them. The effective energy of alamethicin in cylindrical pores is similar to that in toroidal pores, whereas the effective energy of the other three peptides is lower in toroidal pores. Only alamethicin intercalates into the membrane core; MG-H2, melittin and piscidin are located exclusively at the hydrophobic/hydrophilic interface. In toroidal pores, the latter three peptides often bind at the edge of the pore, and are in an oblique orientation. The calculated binding energies of the peptides are correlated with their hemolytic activities. We hypothesize that one distinguishing feature of AMPs may be the fact that they are imperfectly amphipathic which allows them to bind more strongly to toroidal pores. An initial test on a melittin-based mutant seems to support this hypothesis.
molecular dynamics simulations; antimicrobial peptides; toroidal pore; barrel-stave pore; implicit solvent
Natural antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are promising candidates for developing a generation of new antimicrobials to meet the challenge of antibiotic-resistant pathogens such as meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). To facilitate the search for new candidates, we have utilised the Antimicrobial Peptide Database (APD), which contains natural AMPs from bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. This study demonstrates the identification of novel templates against MRSA by screening 30 peptides selected from the APD. These peptides are short (<25 residues), cysteine-free, cationic and represent candidates from different biological sources such as bacteria, insects, arachnids, tunicates, amphibians, fish and mammals. Six peptides, including ascaphin-8, database-screened antimicrobial peptide 1 (DASamP1), DASamP2, lycotoxin I, maculatin 1.3 and piscidin 1, were found to exert potent antimicrobial activity against an MRSA USA300 isolate. Although five of the six peptides showed broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, DASamP1 displayed killing of MRSA in vitro but not of Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In addition, DASamP1 suppressed early biofilm formation in a mouse model of catheter-associated MRSA infection. DASamP1 is a novel, short and potent peptide that will be a useful starting template for further developing novel anti-MRSA peptides.
Antimicrobial peptides; Biofilms; Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
In comparison to higher vertebrates, fish are thought to rely heavily on innate immune system for initial protection against pathogen invasion because their acquired immune system displays a considerably poor immunological memory, and short-lived secondary response. The endogenous antimicrobial polypeptides (AMPPs) directly and rapidly killing pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses are included within the realm of innate defenses. In addition to piscidins, AMPPs that in recent years have been shown to be commonly linked to innate defense, are histones and their polypeptide fragments, and peptides derived from the respiratory protein hemoglobin. There is evidence that a number of stresses lead to significant regulation of AMPPs and thus their monitoring could be a highly sensitive measure of health status and risk of an infectious disease outbreak, which is a major impediment to the continued success of virtually all aquaculture enterprises and is often the most significant cause of economic losses.
We firstly isolated and deposited in Genbank database the cDNA sequences encoding for hemoglobin-β-like protein (Hb-LP) [GeneBank: JN410659], H2B histone-like protein 1 (HLP1) GenBank: JN410660], and HLP2 [GenBank: JN410661]. The "de novo" prediction of the three-dimensional structures for each protein is presented. Phylogenetic trees were constructed on Hb-LP, HLP1, and HLP2 sequences of sea bass and those of other teleost, avian, reptiles, amphibian and mammalian species. We then used real time RT-PCR technology to monitor for the first time in sea bass, dynamic changes in mRNA copy number of Hb-LP, HLP1, HLP2, and dicentracin in gills, skin, eyes, stomach and proximal intestine in response to acute crowding/confinement stress. We showed that acute crowding stress induces an increase in the expression levels of the aforementioned genes, in gills and skin of sea bass, but not in other tissues, and that this expression patterns are not always rapidly reversed upon re-exposure to normal conditions.
The higher expression of the four target genes in gills and skin of sea bass suggests that this AMPP represents a first and immediate line of defense in combating pathogens and stressors since these tissues constitute the first physiological barriers of the animal.
High-resolution two-dimensional (2D) 1H-15N heteronuclear correlation (HETCOR) spectroscopy has been used to characterize the structure and dynamics of 15N-backbone labeled antimicrobial piscidin 1 (p1) oriented in “native-like” hydrated lipid bilayers. Piscidin belongs to a family of amphipatic cationic antimicrobial peptides, which are membrane-active and have broad spectrum antimicrobial activity on bacteria. When the 1H chemical shifts are encoded by the 1H-15N dipolar couplings, 2D dipolar-encoded HETCOR (i.e., de-HETCOR) solid-state NMR spectra yield high resolution 1H and 15N chemical shifts as well as 1H-15N heteronuclear dipolar couplings. Several advantages of HETCOR and de-HETCOR techniques that emerge from our investigations could facilitate the atomic-level investigations of structure-function relationships in membrane-active peptides and membrane-bound species. First, the de-HETCOR NMR spectrum of a ten-site 15N-labeled sample of p1 aligned in hydrated lipid bilayers can resolve resonances that are overlapped in the standard HETCOR spectrum. Second, the resolution in de-HETCOR spectra of p1 improves significantly at higher magnetic field due to an enhanced alignment that improves spectrum definition uniformly. Third, the HETCOR spectrum of 15N-K14 p1 oriented in hydrated lipid bilayers displays not only the expected crosscorrelation between the chemical shifts of bonded amide 1H and 15N spins but also a cross peak between the 1H chemical shift from bulk water and the 15N chemical shift from the labeled amide nitrogen. This information provides new insights into the intermolecular interactions of an amphipathic antimicrobial peptide optimized to partition at the water-bilayer interface and may have implications at the biological level.
Toll-like receptors (Tlrs) are major molecular pattern recognition receptors of the innate immune system. Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is the first vertebrate known to have lost most of the mammalian Tlr orthologues, particularly all bacterial recognising and other cell surface Tlrs. On the other hand, its genome encodes a unique repertoire of teleost-specific Tlrs. The aim of this study was to investigate if these duplicate Tlrs have been retained through adaptive evolution to compensate for the lack of other cell surface Tlrs in the cod genome.
In this study, one tlr21, 12 tlr22 and two tlr23 genes representing the teleost-specific Tlr family have been cloned and characterised in cod. Phylogenetic analysis grouped all tlr22 genes under a single clade, indicating that the multiple cod paralogues have arisen through lineage-specific duplications. All tlrs examined were transcribed in immune-related tissues as well as in stomach, gut and gonads of adult cod and were differentially expressed during early development. These tlrs were also differentially regulated following immune challenge by immersion with Vibrio anguillarum, indicating their role in the immune response. An increase in water temperature from 4 to 12°C was associated with a 5.5-fold down-regulation of tlr22d transcript levels in spleen. Maximum likelihood analysis with different evolution models revealed that tlr22 genes are under positive selection. A total of 24 codons were found to be positively selected, of which 19 are in the ligand binding region of ectodomain.
Positive selection pressure coupled with experimental evidence of differential expression strongly support the hypothesis that teleost-specific tlr paralogues in cod are undergoing neofunctionalisation and can recognise bacterial pathogen-associated molecular patterns to compensate for the lack of other cell surface Tlrs.
Atlantic cod; Toll-like receptors; TLR; Innate immunity; Positive selection; Thermal stress; Neofunctionalisation
The collapse of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) wild populations strongly impacted the Atlantic cod fishery and led to the development of cod aquaculture. In order to improve aquaculture and broodstock quality, we need to gain knowledge of genes and pathways involved in Atlantic cod responses to pathogens and other stressors. The Atlantic Cod Genomics and Broodstock Development Project has generated over 150,000 expressed sequence tags from 42 cDNA libraries representing various tissues, developmental stages, and stimuli. We used this resource to develop an Atlantic cod oligonucleotide microarray containing 20,000 unique probes. Selection of sequences from the full range of cDNA libraries enables application of the microarray for a broad spectrum of Atlantic cod functional genomics studies. We included sequences that were highly abundant in suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) libraries, which were enriched for transcripts responsive to pathogens or other stressors. These sequences represent genes that potentially play an important role in stress and/or immune responses, making the microarray particularly useful for studies of Atlantic cod gene expression responses to immune stimuli and other stressors. To demonstrate its value, we used the microarray to analyze the Atlantic cod spleen response to stimulation with formalin-killed, atypical Aeromonas salmonicida, resulting in a gene expression profile that indicates a strong innate immune response. These results were further validated by quantitative PCR analysis and comparison to results from previous analysis of an SSH library. This study shows that the Atlantic cod 20K oligonucleotide microarray is a valuable new tool for Atlantic cod functional genomics research.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10126-010-9335-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Atlantic cod; Aquaculture; Microarray; Gene expression profiling
Vibriosis caused by V. anguillarum is a commonly encountered disease in Atlantic cod farms and several studies indicate that the initiation of infection occurs after the attachment of the pathogen to the mucosal surfaces (gut, skin and gills) of fish. Therefore it is necessary to investigate the role of different mucosal components in fish upon V. anguillarum infection. The present study has two parts; in the first part we analyzed the differential expression of skin mucus proteins from Atlantic cod naturally infected with V. anguillarum using two dimensional gel electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry. In the second part, a separate bath challenge experiment with V. anguillarum was conducted to assess the mRNA levels of the genes in skin tissue, corresponding to the selected proteins identified in the first part.
Comparative proteome analysis of skin mucus of cod upon natural infection with V. anguillarum revealed key immune relevant proteins like calpain small subunit 1, glutathione-S-transferase omega 1, proteasome 26S subunit, 14-kDa apolipoprotein, beta 2-tubulin, cold inducible RNA binding protein, malate dehydrogenase 2 (mitochondrial) and type II keratin that exhibited significant differential expression. Additionally a number of protein spots which showed large variability amongst individual fish were also identified. Some of the proteins identified were mapped to the immunologically relevant JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinases) signalling pathway that is connected to cellular events associated with pathogenesis. A bath challenge experiment with V. anguillarum showed differential expression of beta 2-tubulin, calpain small subunit 1, cold inducible RNA binding protein, flotillin1, and glutathione S-transferase omega 1 transcripts in the skin tissue of cod during early stages of infection.
Differentially expressed proteins identified in the cod skin mucus point towards their possible involvement in V. anguillarum pathogenesis. The role of some of these proteins in vibriosis in cod described in this paper can be considered unconventional with respect to their established functions in higher vertebrates. Based on the differential expression of these proteins they are possibly important components of fish defence against bacteria and innate immunity at large. The feasibility of utilizing these proteins/genes as markers of bacterial infection or stress in cod needs to be explored further.
Comparative proteome; Skin mucosa; Atlantic cod; Vibrio anguillarum; Bath challenge
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is a large, cold-adapted teleost that sustains long-standing commercial fisheries and incipient aquaculture1,2. Here we present the genome sequence of Atlantic cod, showing evidence for complex thermal adaptations in its haemoglobin gene cluster and an unusual immune architecture compared to other sequenced vertebrates. The genome assembly was obtained exclusively by 454 sequencing of shotgun and paired-end libraries, and automated annotation identified 22,154 genes. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II is a conserved feature of the adaptive immune system of jawed vertebrates3,4, but we show that Atlantic cod has lost the genes for MHCII, CD4 and Ii that are essential for the function of this pathway. Nevertheless, Atlantic cod is not exceptionally susceptible to disease under natural conditions5. We find a highly expanded number of MHCI genes and a unique composition of its Toll-like receptor (TLR) families. This suggests how the Atlantic cod immune system has evolved compensatory mechanisms within both adaptive and innate immunity in the absence of MHCII. These observations affect fundamental assumptions about the evolution of the adaptive immune system and its components in vertebrates.
Genes encoding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have been thought to play a vital role in the adaptive immune system in all vertebrates. The discovery that Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) has lost important components of the MHC II pathway, accompanied by an unusually high number of MHC I genes, shed new light on the evolution and plasticity of the immune system of teleosts as well as in higher vertebrates. The overall aim of this study was to further investigate the highly expanded repertoire of MHC I genes using a cDNA approach to obtain sequence information of both the binding domains and the sorting signaling potential in the cytoplasmic tail. Here we report a novel combination of two endosomal sorting motifs, one tyrosine-based associated with exogenous peptide presentation by cross-presenting MHCI molecules, and one dileucine-based associated with normal MHC II functionality. The two signal motifs were identified in the cytoplasmic tail in a subset of the genes. This indicates that these genes have evolved MHC II-like functionality, allowing a more versatile use of MHC I through cross-presentation. Such an alternative immune strategy may have arisen through adaptive radiation and acquisition of new gene function as a response to changes in the habitat of its ancestral lineage.
Increasing turbidity in coastal waters in the North Atlantic and adjacent seas has raised concerns about impacts on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) using these areas as nurseries. A previous experiment (Meager et al. 2005 Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 62, 1978–1984) has shown that turbidity (up to 28 beam attenuation m−1) had little effect on the foraging rate of juvenile cod. Although this was attributed to cod using chemoreception in conjunction with vision to locate prey, foraging rates may also be maintained by increased activity. Higher activity, however, is energetically costly and may offset benefits from increased foraging return.
We examined the effects of turbidity on prey searching and spontaneous activity of juvenile cod in the laboratory, by measuring activity with and without prey cues. Activity of juvenile cod was nonlinearly affected by turbidity and was lower at intermediate turbidity, regardless of the presence of prey odour. Activity increased over time when prey odour was present and decreased when absent, but the effects of prey odour were similar across all turbidity levels. Position in the tank was unaffected by turbidity or prey odour. Reduced activity at intermediate turbidities is likely to offset longer prey-search times. At high turbidity (greater than 17 m−1), both longer prey-search times and higher activity indicate that increased energetic costs are probable.
turbidity; fish; activity; foraging; cod; juvenile
The physical habitat used during spawning may potentially be an important factor affecting reproductive output of broadcast spawning marine fishes, particularly for species with complex, substrate-oriented mating systems and behaviors, such as Atlantic cod Gadus morhua. We characterized the habitat use and behavior of spawning Atlantic cod at two locations off the coast of southwestern Iceland during a 2-d research cruise (15–16 April 2009). We simultaneously operated two different active hydroacoustic gear types, a split beam echosounder and a dual frequency imaging sonar (DIDSON), as well as a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV). A total of five fish species were identified through ROV surveys: including cusk Brosme brosme, Atlantic cod, haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus, lemon sole Microstomus kitt, and Atlantic redfish Sebastes spp. Of the three habitats identified in the acoustic surveys, the transitional habitat between boulder/lava field and sand habitats was characterized by greater fish density and acoustic target strength compared to that of sand or boulder/lava field habitats independently. Atlantic cod were observed behaving in a manner consistent with published descriptions of spawning. Individuals were observed ascending 1–5 m into the water column from the bottom at an average vertical swimming speed of 0.20–0.25 m s−1 and maintained an average spacing of 1.0–1.4 m between individuals. Our results suggest that cod do not choose spawning locations indiscriminately despite the fact that it is a broadcast spawning fish with planktonic eggs that are released well above the seafloor.
The North Sea has warmed in recent years and there is an ongoing debate into how this is affecting the distribution of fishes and other marine organisms. Of particular interest is the commercially important Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.), which has declined sharply in abundance in the North Sea over the past 20 years. Observations of the temperature experienced by 129 individual cod throughout the North Sea were made during a large-scale electronic tagging programme conducted between 1999 and 2005. We asked whether individual cod fully occupied the thermal habitat available to them. To this end, we compared the temperature experience of cod with independently measured contemporaneous sea-bottom temperature data. The majority of cod experienced a warmer fraction of the sea than was potentially available to them. By summer, most of the individuals in the south experienced temperatures considered superoptimal for growth. Cooler waters were within the reach of the cod and a small number of individuals migrated to areas that allowed them to experience lower temperatures, indicating that the cod had the capacity to find cooler water. Most did not, however, suggesting that the changing thermal regime of the North Sea is not yet causing adult cod to move to cooler waters.
fishes; electronic tags; temperature; movement; distribution; population structure
Cathelicidins are a family of antimicrobial peptides that act as effector molecules of the innate immune system with broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. These evolutionary conserved cationic host-defence peptides are integral components of the immune response of fish, which are generally believed to rely heavily on innate immune defences to invading pathogens. In this study we showed that Atlantic salmon cathelicidin 1 and 2 (asCATH1 and asCATH2) stimulated peripheral blood leukocytes increasing the transcription of the chemokine interleukin-8. Further, functional differences were identified between the two cathelicidins. In the presence of serum, asCATH1 displayed greatly diminished host haemolytic activity, while the constitutively expressed asCATH2 had no haemolytic activity with or without serum. These findings support our hypothesis that fish cathelicidins exert their primary antimicrobial action at the site of pathogen invasion such as epithelial surfaces. Further, we hypothesise that like their mammalian counterparts in the presence of serum they act as mediators of the innate and adaptive immune response via the release of cytokines thus indirectly protecting against a variety of pathogens. We highlight the importance of this immunomodulatory role from the involvement of asCATHs during an infection with the fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri. While we were able to demonstrate in vitro that asCATH1 and 2, possessed direct microbicidal activity against the fish pathogen, Vibrio anguillarum, and a common gram negative bacterium, Escherichia coli, little or no bactericidal activity was found against Y. ruckeri. The contribution of either asCATH in the immune response or as a potential virulence factor during yersiniosis is highlighted from the increased expression of asCATH1 and 2 mRNA during an in vivo challenge with Y. ruckeri . We propose that Atlantic salmon cathelicidins participate in the interplay between the innate and adaptive immune systems via the release of cytokines enabling a more effective response to invading pathogens.
Although numerous studies on parasites of the Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L. have been conducted in the North Atlantic, comparative analyses on local cod parasite faunas are virtually lacking. The present study is based on examination of large samples of cod from six geographical areas of the North East Atlantic which yielded abundant baseline data on parasite distribution and abundance.
Materials and Methods
A total of 826 fish was sampled in the Baltic, Celtic, Irish and North seas, Icelandic waters and Trondheimsfjord (Norway) in 2002 (spring and autumn) and 2003 (spring). The gills and internal organs (oesophagus, stomach, intestine, pyloric caeca, liver, heart, spleen, gall bladder and gonads) were examined for macroparasites following a standardised protocol. The taxonomic consistency of the identification was ensured thorough the entire study.
We discuss some problems in parasite identification, outline the composition of the parasite faunas in cod in the six North East Atlantic regions, provide novel data on parasite prevalence and abundance and a comparative assessment of the structure of the regional parasite faunas with respect to the higher-level taxonomic groupings, host specificity and zoogeographical distribution of the parasites. Altogether 57 different parasite forms were found including seven new host records (Diclidophora merlangi, Rhipidocotyle sp., Fellodistomum sp., Steringotrema sp., Cucullanus sp., Spinitectus sp., and Chondracanthus ornatus). The predominant groups of cod parasites were trematodes (19 species) and nematodes (13 species) including larval anisakids which comprised 58.2% of the total number of individuals.
Our study reveals relatively rich regional parasite faunas in cod from the North East Atlantic which are dominated by generalist parasites with Arcto-Boreal distribution. Further, it provides more detailed data on the distribution in the North East Atlantic of the majority of cod parasites which may serve as baselines for future studies on the effect of climate change. Based on the faunal comparisons, predictions can be made in relation to the structure and diversity of the parasite communities in the North East Atlantic regions studied.
There is increasing recognition of intraspecific diversity and population structure within marine fish species, yet there is little direct evidence of the isolating mechanisms that maintain it or documentation of its ecological extent. We analyzed depth and temperature histories collected by electronic data storage tags retrieved from 104 Atlantic cod at liberty ≥1 year to evaluate a possible isolating mechanisms maintaining population structure within the Icelandic cod stock. This stock consists of two distinct behavioral types, resident coastal cod and migratory frontal cod, each occurring within two geographically distinct populations. Despite being captured together on the same spawning grounds, we show the behavioral types seem reproductively isolated by fine-scale differences in spawning habitat selection, primarily depth. Additionally, the different groups occupied distinct seasonal thermal and bathymetric niches that generally demonstrated low levels of overlap throughout the year. Our results indicate that isolating mechanisms, such as differential habitat selection during spawning, might contribute to maintaining diversity and fine-scale population structure in broadcast-spawning marine fishes.
Photoperiod is associated to phenotypic plasticity of somatic growth in several teleost species. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are currently unknown but it is likely that epigenetic regulation by methyltransferases is involved. The MLL (mixed-lineage leukaemia) family comprises histone methyltransferases that play a critical role in regulating gene expression during early development in mammals. So far, these genes have received scant attention in teleost fish. In the present study, the mean weight of Atlantic cod juveniles reared under continuous illumination was found to be 13% greater than those kept under natural photoperiod conditions for 120 days. We newly determined cDNA sequences of five mll (mll1, mll2, mll3a, mll4b and mll5) and two setd1 (setd1a and setd1ba) paralogues from Atlantic cod. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the cod genes clustered within the appropriate mll clade and comparative mapping of mll paralogues showed that these genes lie within a region of conserved synteny among teleosts. All mll and setd1 genes were highly expressed in gonads and fast muscle of adult cod, albeit at different levels, and they were differentially regulated with photoperiod in muscle of juvenile fish. Following only one day of exposure to constant light, mll1, mll4b and setd1a were up to 57% lower in these fish compared to the natural photoperiod group. In addition, mRNA expression of myogenic regulatory factors (myog and myf-5) and pax7 in fast muscle was also affected by different photoperiod conditions. Notably, myog was significantly elevated in the continuous illumination group throughout the time course of the experiment. The absence of a day/night cycle is associated with a generalised decrease in mll expression concomitant with an increase in myog transcript levels in fast muscle of Atlantic cod, which may be involved in the observed epigenetic regulation of growth by photoperiod in this species.
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) reared in sea-cages can experience large variations in temperature, and these have been shown to affect their immune function. We used the new 20K Atlantic cod microarray to investigate how a water temperature change which, simulates that seen in Newfoundland during the spring-summer (i.e. from 10°C to 16°C, 1°C increase every 5 days) impacted the cod spleen transcriptome response to the intraperitoneal injection of a viral mimic (polyriboinosinic polyribocytidylic acid, pIC).
The temperature regime alone did not cause any significant increases in plasma cortisol levels and only minor changes in spleen gene transcription. However, it had a considerable impact on the fish spleen transcriptome response to pIC [290 and 339 significantly differentially expressed genes between 16°C and 10°C at 6 and 24 hours post-injection (HPI), respectively]. Seventeen microarray-identified transcripts were selected for QPCR validation based on immune-relevant functional annotations. Fifteen of these transcripts (i.e. 88%), including DHX58, STAT1, IRF7, ISG15, RSAD2 and IκBα, were shown by QPCR to be significantly induced by pIC.
The temperature increase appeared to accelerate the spleen immune transcriptome response to pIC. We found 41 and 999 genes differentially expressed between fish injected with PBS vs. pIC at 10°C and sampled at 6HPI and 24HPI, respectively. In contrast, there were 656 and 246 genes differentially expressed between fish injected with PBS vs. pIC at 16°C and sampled at 6HPI and 24HPI, respectively. Our results indicate that the modulation of mRNA expression of genes belonging to the NF-κB and type I interferon signal transduction pathways may play a role in controlling temperature-induced changes in the spleen’s transcript expression response to pIC. Moreover, interferon effector genes such as ISG15 and RSAD2 were differentially expressed between fish injected with pIC at 10°C vs. 16°C at 6HPI. These results substantially increase our understanding of the genes and molecular pathways involved in the negative impacts of elevated ambient temperature on fish health, and may also be valuable to our understanding of how accelerated global climate change could impact cold-water marine finfish species.
In March 2012, fishermen operating in a fjord in Northern Norway reported catching Atlantic cod, a native fish forming an economically important marine fishery in this region, with unusual prey in their stomachs. It was speculated that these could be Atlantic salmon, which is not typical prey for cod at this time of the year in the coastal zone. These observations were therefore reported to the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries as a suspected interaction between a local fish farm and this commercial fishery. Statistical analyses of genetic data from 17 microsatellite markers genotyped on 36 partially-degraded prey, samples of salmon from a local fish farm, and samples from the nearest wild population permitted the following conclusions: 1. The prey were Atlantic salmon, 2. These salmon did not originate from the local wild population, and 3. The local farm was the most probable source of these prey. Additional tests demonstrated that 21 of the 36 prey were infected with piscine reovirus. While the potential link between piscine reovirus and the disease heart and skeletal muscle inflammation is still under scientific debate, this disease had caused mortality of large numbers of salmon in the farm in the month prior to the fishermen's observations. These analyses provide new insights into interactions between domesticated and wild fish.
The catastrophic impact of fishing pressure on species such as cod and herring is well documented. However, the antiquity of their intensive exploitation has not been established. Systematic catch statistics are only available for ca.100 years, but large-scale fishing industries existed in medieval Europe and the expansion of cod fishing from the fourteenth century (first in Iceland, then in Newfoundland) played an important role in the European colonization of the Northwest Atlantic. History has demonstrated the scale of these late medieval and post-medieval fisheries, but only archaeology can illuminate earlier practices. Zooarchaeological evidence shows that the clearest changes in marine fishing in England between AD 600 and 1600 occurred rapidly around AD 1000 and involved large increases in catches of herring and cod. Surprisingly, this revolution predated the documented post-medieval expansion of England's sea fisheries and coincided with the Medieval Warm Period--when natural herring and cod productivity was probably low in the North Sea. This counterintuitive discovery can be explained by the concurrent rise of urbanism and human impacts on freshwater ecosystems. The search for 'pristine' baselines regarding marine ecosystems will thus need to employ medieval palaeoecological proxies in addition to recent fisheries data and early modern historical records.
Expression and processing of mitochondrial gene transcripts are fundamental to mitochondrial function, but information from early vertebrates like teleost fishes is essentially lacking. We have analyzed mitogenome sequences of ten codfishes (family Gadidae), and provide complete sequences from three new species (Saithe, Pollack and Blue whiting). Characterization of the mitochondrial mRNAs in Saithe and Atlantic cod identified a set of ten poly(A) transcripts, and six UAA stop codons are generated by posttranscriptional polyadenylation. Structural assessment of poly(A) sites is consistent with an RNaseP cleavage activity 5′ of tRNA acceptor-like stems. COI, ND5 and ND6 mRNAs were found to harbor 3′ UTRs with antisense potential extending into neighboring gene regions. While the 3′ UTR of COI mRNA is complementary to the tRNASer (UCN) and highly similar to that detected in human mitochondria, the ND5 and ND6 3′ UTRs appear more heterogenic. Deep sequencing confirms expression of all mitochondrial mRNAs and rRNAs, and provides information about the precise 5′ ends in mature transcripts. Our study supports an overall evolutionary conservation in mitochondrial RNA processing events among vertebrates, but reveals some unique 5′ and 3′ end characteristics in codfish mRNAs with implications to antisense regulation of gene expression.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00294-011-0338-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Antisense regulation; Deep sequencing; Gadidae; Mitochondrial RNA; Mitogenome; Polyadenylation
The Atlantic cod is an ecologically and economically important North Atlantic fish species and also an emerging aquaculture species. To study gene expression in Atlantic cod embryonic stem (ES) cells, our goal was to generate and analyze expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from an ES cell cDNA library of mRNA consisting of approximately 3,900 ESTs.
We sequenced 3,935 EST clones using a directional cDNA library made from pooled ES cells harvested at the blastula stage. Quality filtering of these ESTs allowed identification of 2,719 high-quality sequences with an average length of 442 bp containing 368 contigs and 1,276 singletons (1,644 unique sequences). BLASTX searches produced 889 significant (E-value < 10-3) hits, of which 698 (42.5%) were annotated with Gene Ontology terms (E-value < 10-6). The number of unknown unique sequences was 946 (57.5%). All the high-quality EST sequences have been deposited in GenBank (GenBank: 2,719 sequences in UniGene library dbEST id: 22,021). Gene discovery and annotations are presented and discussed.
This set of ESTs represents one of the first attempts to describe mRNA in ES cells from a marine cold-water fish species, and provides a basis for gene expression studies of Atlantic cod ES cells.
The present paper describes the growth properties of juvenile Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) reared at 7, 10, 13 and 16 °C, and a group reared under “temperature steps” i.e. with temperature reduced successively from 16 to 13 and 10 °C. Growth rate and feed conversion efficiency of juvenile Atlantic cod were significantly influenced by the interaction of temperature and fish size. Overall growth was highest in the 13 °C and the T-step groups but for different reasons, as the fish at 13 °C had 10% higher overall feeding intake compared to the T-step group, whereas the T-step had 8% higher feeding efficiency. After termination of the laboratory study the fish were reared in sea pens at ambient conditions for 17 months. The groups performed differently when reared at ambient conditions in the sea as the T-step group was 11.6, 11.5, 5.3 and 7.5% larger than 7, 10, 13 and 16 °C, respectively in June 2005. Optimal temperature for growth and feed conversion efficiency decreased with size, indicating an ontogenetic reduction in optimum temperature for growth with increasing size. The results suggest an optimum temperature for growth of juvenile Atlantic cod in the size range 5–50 g dropping from 14.7 °C for 5–10 g juvenile to 12.4 °C for 40–50 g juvenile. Moreover, a broader parabolic regression curve between growth, feed conversion efficiency and temperature as size increases, indicate increased temperature tolerance with size. The study confirms that juvenile cod exhibits ontogenetic variation in temperature optimum, which might partly explain different spatial distribution of juvenile and adult cod in ocean waters. Our study also indicates a physiological mechanism that might be linked to cod migrations as cod may maximize their feeding efficiency by active thermoregulation.
active thermoregulation; behavioural growth physiology; feed conversion efficiency; optimal growth temperatures; size dependent growth
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is a species with increasing economic significance for the aquaculture industry. The genetic improvement of cod will play a critical role in achieving successful large-scale aquaculture. While many microsatellite markers have been developed in cod, the number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is currently limited. Here we report the identification of SNPs from sequence data generated by a large-scale expressed sequence tag (EST) program, focusing on fish originating from Canadian waters.
A total of 97976 ESTs were assembled to generate 13448 contigs. We detected 4753 SNPs that met our selection criteria (depth of coverage ≥ 4 reads; minor allele frequency > 25%). 3072 SNPs were selected for testing. The percentage of successful assays was 75%, with 2291 SNPs amplifying correctly. Of these, 607 (26%) SNPs were monomorphic for all populations tested. In total, 64 (4%) of SNPs are likely to represent duplicated genes or highly similar members of gene families, rather than alternative alleles of the same gene, since they showed a high frequency of heterozygosity. The remaining polymorphic SNPs (1620) were categorised as validated SNPs. The mean minor allele frequency of the validated loci was 0.258 (± 0.141). Of the 1514 contigs from which validated SNPs were selected, 31% have a significant blast hit. For the SNPs predicted to occur in coding regions (141), we determined that 36% (51) are non-synonymous. Many loci (1033 SNPs; 64%) are polymorphic in all populations tested. However a small number of SNPs (184) that are polymorphic in the Western Atlantic were monomorphic in fish tested from three European populations. A preliminary linkage map has been constructed with 23 major linkage groups and 924 mapped SNPs.
These SNPs represent powerful tools to accelerate the genetic improvement of cod aquaculture. They have been used to build a genetic linkage map that can be applied to quantitative trait locus (QTL) discovery. Since these SNPs were generated from ESTs, they are linked to specific genes. Genes that map within QTL intervals can be prioritized for testing to determine whether they contribute to observed phenotypes.