Influence of elevated temperatures on the immune response of abalone, Haliotis rubra

Vinh Dang, Peter Speck, Kirsten Benkendorff

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    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Elevated water temperature can act as a stressor impacting the immune responses of molluscs, potentially increasing their susceptibility to microbial infections. Abalone are commercially important marine molluscs that have recently experienced disease outbreaks caused by a herpesvirus and Vibrio bacteria. Sampling of wild-caught Haliotis rubra showed a significant correlation between water temperature and both antiviral and antibacterial activity, with higher activity in summer than in winter months. However, antibacterial activity was compromised in favour of antiviral activity as the water temperatures peaked in summer. A controlled laboratory experiment was then used to investigate several immune responses of H. rubra, including total haemocyte count (THC), stimulated superoxide anion production (SO), antiviral activity against a model herpesvirus, herpes simplex virus type 1 and antibacterial activity against a representative pathogenic bacterium, Vibrio anguillarum, over one week after raising water temperature from 18 to 21 or 24 °C. THC and SO increased at day 1 and then dropped back to control levels by days 3 and 7. By comparison, the humoural immune parameters showed a delayed response with antibacterial and antiviral activity significantly increasing on days 3 and 7, respectively. Consistent with the field study, antibacterial activity became significantly depressed after prolonged exposure to elevated temperatures. A principal components analysis on the combined immune parameters showed a negative correlation between antiviral and antibacterial activity. SO was positively correlated to THC and neither of these cellular parameters were correlated to the humoural antimicrobial activity. Overall, this study indicates that abalone may have more resilience to viruses than bacterial pathogens under conditions of elevated temperature, such as those predicted under future climate change scenarios.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)732-740
    Number of pages9
    JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2012


    • Antibacterial activity
    • Antiviral activity
    • Haemocytes
    • Heat stress
    • Superoxide anion


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