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Metabolism in blue mussel: intertidal and subtidal beds compared

Abstract : Mytilids occur worldwide, and mussel beds are a prominent intertidal and subtidal system feature. Brittany (France) has a complex population structure in which pure genotypes alternate with hybrids of Mytilus edulis and M. galloprovincialis, referred to here as 'mussels'. Mussels live attached to the substrate in subtidal and intertidal areas and are regularly exposed to strong environmental variations (e. g. desiccation, light, and temperature). The resistance of mussels to emersion is based on a combination of different strategies, such as metabolic rate depression, anaerobic metabolism and air breathing. In the present study, we have evaluated the differences in aerial and underwater mussel metabolism between an intertidal mussel bed and a subtidal one. Metabolism was measured seasonally for small (shell length 24 to 26 mm) and large (43 to 66 mm) individuals. Mussel aerial respiration fluxes were directly correlated with air temperature. In contrast, underwater carbon (DIC) fluxes seemed to be influenced by additional factors such as food availability and/or reproduction period. Underwater metabolism was higher in small mussels (intertidal: 35.9 mu mol DIC g AFDW(-1) h(-1); subtidal: 51.4 mu mol DIC g AFDW(-1) h(-1)) than in large mussels (intertidal: 26.4 mu mol DIC g AFDW(-1) h(-1); subtidal: 21.3 mu mol DIC g AFDW(-1) h(-1)). In contrast, aerial respiration showed different adaptations: small intertidal and subtidal mussels had similar respiration under emerged conditions, while large intertidal individuals showed higher carbon fluxes during emersion compared to subtidal individuals. These data suggest that while underwater fluxes were similar for the 2 mussel beds, all small and large intertidal mussels are far better able to tolerate emersion than large subtidal animals. Subtidal mussels seem thus to lose their ability to respire in air after becoming adult.
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Morgana Tagliarolo, Jacques Clavier, Laurent Chauvaud, Marcel Koken, Jacques Grall. Metabolism in blue mussel: intertidal and subtidal beds compared. Aquatic Biology, Inter-Research, 2012, 17 (2), pp.167-180. ⟨10.3354/ab00464⟩. ⟨hal-00808555⟩

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