Survival, oxygen consumption ( M- O 2 ), total plasma cortisol and glucose levels and gill heat-shock protein 70 (hsp70) expression were measured in 10 and 50 g juvenile Atlantic cod Gadus morhua during an acute temperature increase (2° C h−1) to their critical thermal maximum. Ninety three per cent of the fish in both size classes survived to 24° C; however, mortality was 100% within 15 min of reaching this temperature. The M- O 2 for both size classes increased significantly with temperature, reaching peak values at 22° C that were c. 2·8-fold those of control (10° C) fish. Resting plasma cortisol and glucose levels were lower in 10 g as compared to 50 g fish. Plasma glucose levels were highly variable in both size classes, and significant increases were only seen at >22° C for the 10 g fish. In contrast, plasma cortisol showed an exponential increase with temperature starting at 16° C in both size classes, and reached maximum levels at 22° C that were 19-fold (10 g fish) and 35-fold (50 g fish) higher than their respective control groups. Both the constitutive (73 kDa) and inducible (72 kDa) isoforms of hsp70 were detected in both size classes using the widely utilized mouse monoclonal antibody. Expression of these isoforms, however, did not change when Atlantic cod were exposed to elevated temperature, and the 72 kDa isoform was not detected using salmonid-specific antibodies. These results indicate that juvenile Atlantic cod are very sensitive to acute increases in water temperature. In addition, they (1) show that M- O 2 and plasma cortisol, but not plasma glucose or gill hsp 70 levels, are sensitive indicators of thermal stress in Atlantic cod and (2) support previous reports that the upper critical temperature for this species is 16° C.
Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7 Canada 2:
Institute for Marine Biosciences, National Research Council Canada, Halifax, NS B3H 3Z1 Canada 3:
Department of Biology, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB E4L 1G7 Canada