How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

Heat Shock Proteins in the Copper Butterfly
Karl, I., Sorensen, J.G., Loeschcke, V. and Fischer, K. 2008. HSP70 expression in the Copper butterfly Lycaena tityrus across altitudes and temperatures. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22: 172-178.

The authors write that "the evolution of behavioral, physiological and molecular mechanisms to cope with stressful conditions is expected and generally found (Hoffmann et al., 2003; Sorensen et al., 2003)," and they say that "one well-known mechanism to cope with extreme temperatures is the expression of stress-inducible heat-shock proteins (HSPs), which are thought to play an important ecological and evolutionary role in thermal adaptation," while additionally noting that "the upregulation of stress-inducible HSPs may help organisms to cope with stress thus enhancing survival (Sorensen et al., 2003; Dahlhoff, 2004; Dahlhoff and Rank, 2007)."

What was done
Working with Lycaena tityrus, a widespread temperate-zone butterfly that ranges from western Europe to central Asia, Karl et al. compared expression patterns of stress-inducible HSPs across replicated populations originating from different altitudes, as well as across different ambient temperatures.

What was learned
The four researchers observed "a significant interaction between altitude and rearing temperature [that] indicates that low-altitude animals showed a strongly increased HSP70 expression at the higher compared with at the lower rearing temperature," which is exactly where one would expect to see such a response in light of its obvious utility.

What it means
In discussing their findings, Karl et al. say their observation that "HSP70 expression increased substantially at the higher rearing temperature in low-altitude butterflies ... might represent an adaptation to occasionally occurring heat spells," which further suggests that this response should serve these organisms well in the days and years to come, especially if the dramatic warming and increase in heat spells predicted by the world's climate alarmists ever come to pass, which still further suggests (in light of the similar findings of others) that more of earth's life forms than many have assumed might be genetically equipped to likewise cope with the future thermal dangers envisioned by those enamored with the climate modeling enterprise and its imagined ramifications.

Dahlhoff, E.P. 2004. Biochemical indicators of stress and metabolism: applications for marine ecological studies. Annual Review of Physiology 66: 183-207.

Dahlhoff, E.P. and Rank, N.E. 2007. The role of stress proteins in responses of a montane willow leaf beetle to environmental temperature variation. Journal of Biosciences 32: 477-488.

Hoffmann, A.A., Sorensen, J.G. and Loeschcke, V. 2003. Adaptation of Drosophila to temperature extremes: bringing together quantitative and molecular approaches. Journal of Thermal Biology 28: 175-216.

Sorensen, J.G., Kristensen, T.N. and Loeschcke, V. 2003. The evolutionary and ecological role of heat shock proteins. Ecology Letters 6: 1025-1037.

Reviewed 15 April 2009