The Secret to Successful Deep-Sea Invasion: Does Low Temperature Hold the Key?

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Abstract

There is a general consensus that today's deep-sea biodiversity has largely resulted from recurrent invasions and speciations occurring through homogenous waters during periods of the Phanerozoic eon. Migrations likely continue today, primarily via isothermal water columns, such as those typical of Polar Regions, but the necessary ecological and physiological adaptations behind them are poorly understood. In an evolutionary context, understanding the adaptations, which allow for colonisation to high-pressure environments, may enable us to predict future events. In this investigation, we examine pressure tolerance during development, in the shallow-water neogastropod Buccinum undatum using thermally acclimated egg masses from temperate and sub-polar regions across the species range. Fossil records indicate neogastropods to have a deep-water origin, suggesting shallow-water species may be likely candidates for re-emergence into the deep sea. Our results show population level differences in physiological thresholds, which indicate low temperature acclimation to increase pressure tolerance. These findings imply this species is capable of deep-sea penetration through isothermal water columns prevailing at high latitudes. This study gives new insight into the fundamentals behind past and future colonisation events. Such knowledge is instrumental to understand better how changes in climate envelopes affect the distribution and radiation of species along latitudinal as well as bathymetric temperature gradients. © 2012 Smith, Thatje.

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Smith, K. E., & Thatje, S. (2012). The Secret to Successful Deep-Sea Invasion: Does Low Temperature Hold the Key? PLoS ONE, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051219

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