The effects of temperature and body size on immunological development and responsiveness in juvenile shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum)


Ana M. Gradil, Glenda M. Wright, David J. Speare, Dorota W. Wadowska, , Sara Purcell, Mark D. Fast


Sturgeon are an important evolutionary taxa of which little is known regarding their responses to environmental factors. Water temperature strongly influences growth in fish; however, its effect on sturgeon immune responses is unknown. The objective of this study was to assess how 2 different temperatures affect immune responses in shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) relevant immune organs such as the meningeal myeloid tissue, spleen, thymus and skin. These responses were studied in 2 different sizes of same age juvenile sturgeon kept at either 11 °C or 20 °C (4 treatment groups), before and after exposure to an ectoparasitic copepod (Dichelesthium oblongum). Based on a differential cell count, temperature was found to strongly influence immune cell production in the meningeal myeloid tissue, regardless of the fish sizes considered. Morphometric analysis of splenic white pulp showed a transient response to temperature. There were no differences between the groups in the morphometric analysis of thymus size. Splenic IRF-1 and IRF-2 had similar expression profiles, significantly higher in fish kept at 20 °C for the first 6 weeks of the study but not by 14 weeks. In the skin, IRF-1 was significantly higher in the fish kept at 11 °C over the first 6 weeks of the study. IRF-2 had a similar profile but there were no differences between the groups by the end of the trial. In conclusion, higher water temperatures (up to 20 °C) may have beneficial effects in maximizing growth and improving immunological capacity, regardless of the fish sizes considered in this study.