Respiratory adaptations in a deep-sea orbiniid polychaete from Gulf of Mexico brine pool NR-1: Metabolic rates and hemoglobin structure/function relationships

Stéphane Hourdez, Roy E. Weber, Brian N. Green, John M. Kenney, Charles R. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Methanoaricia dendrobranchiata Blake (Polychaeta; Orbiniidae) occurs in large numbers in association with communities of the mussel Bathymodiolus childressi at hydrocarbon seeps on the Louisiana Slope of the Gulf of Mexico. Its microhabitat can be strongly hypoxic (oxygen is often undetectable) and sulfidic (sulfide concentrations can reach millimolar levels), which may seriously challenge aerobic metabolism. We describe a suite of adaptations to its low-oxygen environment. The worms are capable of regulating their rate of oxygen consumption down to partial pressures of approximately 870 Pa oxygen. This capability correlates with a large gill surface area, a small diffusion distance from sea water to blood, a very high hemoglobin oxygen-affinity (P50=27.8 Pa at 10°C and pH7.6) and a Bohr effect that is pronounced at high oxygen saturations. When fully saturated, the hemoglobin binds sufficient oxygen for only 31min of aerobic metabolism. However, these polychaetes can withstand extended periods of anoxia both in the absence and presence of 1 mmol l-1 sulfide (TL50=approx. 5.5 and 4 days, respectively).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1669-1681
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume205
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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