Responses to elevated CO2 exposure in a freshwater mussel, Fusconaia flava

Jennifer D. Jeffrey, Kelly D. Hannan, Caleb T. Hasler, Cory D. Suski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Freshwater mussels are some of the most imperiled species in North America and are particularly susceptible to environmental change. One environmental disturbance that mussels may encounter that remains understudied is an increase in the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2). The present study quantified the impacts of acute (6 h) and chronic (up to 32 days) exposures to elevated pCO2 on genes associated with shell formation (chitin synthase; cs) and the stress response (heat shock protein 70; hsp70) in Fusconaia flava. Oxygen consumption (MO2) was also assessed over the chronic CO2 exposure period. Although mussels exhibited an increase in cs following an acute exposure to elevated pCO2, long-term exposure resulted in a decrease in cs mRNA abundance, suggesting that mussels may invest less in shell formation during chronic exposure to elevated pCO2. In response to an acute elevation in pCO2, mussels increased hsp70 mRNA abundance in mantle and adductor muscle and a similar increase was observed in the gill and adductor muscle in response to a chronic elevation in pCO2. A chronic elevation in pCO2 also increased mussel MO2. This overall increase in hsp70 mRNA levels and MO2 in F. flava indicates that exposure to elevated pCO2 initiates activation of the general stress response and an increased energy demand. Together, the results of the present study suggest that freshwater mussels respond to elevated pCO2 by increasing processes necessary to ‘deal with’ the stressor and, over the long-term, may reduce their investment in non-essential processes such as shell growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Bivalve
  • Chitin synthase
  • Heat shock protein 70
  • Metabolic rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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