Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences


Lars Tomanek


Global climate change is increasing the number of hot days along the California coast as well as increasing the incidence of off-shore upwelling events that lower the pH of intertidal seawater; thus, intertidal organisms are experiencing an increase in more than one stress simultaneously. This study seeks to characterize the global protein response of the eurythermal porcelain crab Petrolisthes cinctipes to changes in thermal, pH, and tidal regime treatments, either combined or individually. The first experiment examined temperature stress alone and sought to determine the effect of chronic temperature acclimation on the acute heat shock response. We compared the proteomic response of cheliped muscle tissue following a month-long acclimation to either (1) constant 10°C, (2) daily fluctuation from 10-20°C, or (3) daily fluctuation from 10-30°C, all followed by either a 30°C acute heat shock or 10°C control. We found that ATP supply via the phosphagen system, changes in glycolytic enzymes, muscle fiber restructuring, respiratory protein fragmentation, and immunity were primarily affected by acclimation and subsequent heat shock. Acclimation to the “extreme” regimes (10°C and 10-30°C) resulted in the greatest proteomic changes, while acclimation to the moderate regime (10-20°C) resulted in a more mild response to heat shock (i.e., fewer adjustments to relative protein abundance). The second experiment sought to determine the proteomic response of gill tissue following a 17 d acclimation to daily changes in pH (ambient pH 8.1 vs low pH 7.6), tidal regime (constant immersion vs 6 h emersion), and temperature (ambient 11°C vs 22-31°C heat shock during emersion). Low pH alone reduced expression of molecular chaperones of the endoplasmic reticulum, lectins, and serine proteases involved in activating the prophenoloxidase cascade. It also increased the abundance of Na+/K+-ATPase, nitrogen metabolism enzymes, and induced changes in tubulin expression, all suggesting an increase in ammonium excretion. Addition of emersion during low pH reduced the abundance of several metabolic proteins including those involved in the proposed ammonium excretion mechanism, suggesting a decrease in metabolic function in part to prevent toxic accumulation of ammonium in the branchial chambers. Combined pH, emersion, and thermal stress increased the abundance of proteins involved in cuticle binding and crosslinking. These results indicate that the responses to pH, tidal cycle, and temperature are highly dependent on one another and that changes in ER protein maturation, ion transport, immunity, and cuticle structure are the primary biochemical systems impacted by these environmental stressors in crustacean gill.