Date of Award

8-2016

Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Dr. Kristin Hardy

Abstract

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are compounds that can interfere with hormone signaling pathways and are now recognized as pervasive in estuarine and marine waters. One prevalent EDC in California’s coastal waters is the xenoestrogen 4-nonylphenol (4-NP), which has been shown to impair reproduction, development, growth, and in some cases immune function of marine invertebrates. To further investigate effects of 4-NP on marine invertebrate immune function we measured total hemocyte counts (THC), relative transcript abundance of immune-relevant genes, and lysozyme activity in Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) following bacterial infection. To quantify these effects we exposed oysters to dissolved phase 4-NP at high (100 μg l-1), low (2 μg l-1), or control (100 μl ethanol) concentrations for 7 days, and then experimentally infected (via injection into the adductor muscle) the oysters with the marine bacterium Vibrio campbellii. 4-NP significantly altered the effects of bacterial infection had on THC. Oysters exposed to both high and low 4-NP did not experience a bacteria-induced increase in THC, as seen in control oysters. We also determined that V. campbellii infection induced differential expression of a subset of immune-related genes tested (Cg-bigdef2, Cg-bpi1, Cg-lys1, Cg-timp) in some, but not all, tissues; 4-NP exposure altered expression patterns in two of these genes (Cg-bpi1 and Cg-tgase). Exposure to 4-NP alone also caused differential expression in some genes (Cg-bpi1, Cg-galectin1, Cg-clec2). Lastly, low levels of 4-NP significantly increased lysozyme activity 24 h post-infection. These results suggest that exposure to 4-NP can alter both cellular and humoral immune responses to bacterial infection in C. gigas.

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