Publications by authors named "Rob McAllen"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Effects of Seasonal Anoxia on the Microbial Community Structure in Demosponges in a Marine Lake in Lough Hyne, Ireland.

mSphere 2021 02 3;6(1). Epub 2021 Feb 3.

Department of Biology, Nordcee, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Climate change is expanding marine oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), while anthropogenic nutrient input depletes oxygen concentrations locally. The effects of deoxygenation on animals are generally detrimental; however, some sponges (Porifera) exhibit hypoxic and anoxic tolerance through currently unknown mechanisms. Sponges harbor highly specific microbiomes, which can include microbes with anaerobic capabilities. Sponge-microbe symbioses must also have persisted through multiple anoxic/hypoxic periods throughout Earth's history. Since sponges lack key components of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway responsible for hypoxic responses in other animals, it was hypothesized that sponge tolerance to deoxygenation may be facilitated by its microbiome. To test this hypothesis, we determined the microbial composition of sponge species tolerating seasonal anoxia and hypoxia in a semienclosed marine lake, using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. We discovered a high degree of cryptic diversity among sponge species tolerating seasonal deoxygenation, including at least nine encrusting species of the orders Axinellida and Poecilosclerida. Despite significant changes in microbial community structure in the water, sponge microbiomes were species specific and remarkably stable under varied oxygen conditions, which was further explored for spp. 2 and However, some symbiont sharing occurred under anoxia. At least three symbiont combinations, all including large populations of , corresponded with deoxygenation tolerance, and some combinations were shared between some distantly related hosts. We propose hypothetical host-symbiont interactions following deoxygenation that could confer deoxygenation tolerance. The oceans have an uncertain future due to anthropogenic stressors and an uncertain past that is becoming clearer with advances in biogeochemistry. Both past and future oceans were, or will be, deoxygenated in comparison to present conditions. Studying how sponges and their associated microbes tolerate deoxygenation provides insights into future marine ecosystems. Moreover, sponges form the earliest branch of the animal evolutionary tree, and they likely resemble some of the first animals. We determined the effects of variable environmental oxygen concentrations on the microbial communities of several demosponge species during seasonal anoxia in the field. Our results indicate that anoxic tolerance in some sponges may depend on their symbionts, but anoxic tolerance was not universal in sponges. Therefore, some sponge species could likely outcompete benthic organisms like corals in future, reduced-oxygen ecosystems. Our results support the molecular evidence that sponges and other animals have a Neoproterozoic origin and that animal evolution was not limited by low-oxygen conditions.
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February 2021

Distinct gelatinous zooplankton communities across a dynamic shelf sea.

Limnol Oceanogr 2019 Jul 13;64(4):1802-1818. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

The Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Environmental Research Institute Cork Ireland.

Understanding how gelatinous zooplankton communities are structured by local hydrography and physical forcing has important implications for fisheries and higher trophic predators. Although a large body of research has described how fronts, hydrographic boundaries, and different water masses (e.g., mixed vs. stratified) influence phytoplankton and zooplankton communities, comparatively few studies have investigated their influence on gelatinous zooplankton communities. In July 2015, 49 plankton samples were collected from 50 m depth to the surface, across five transects in the Celtic Sea, of which, four crossed the Celtic Sea Front. Two distinct gelatinous communities were found in this dynamic shelf sea: a cold water community in the cooler mixed water that mainly contained neritic taxa and a warm water community in the warmer stratified water that contained a mixture of neritic and oceanic taxa. The gelatinous biomass was 40% greater in the warm water community (∼ 2 mg C m) compared with the cold water community (∼ 1.3 mg C m). The warm water community was dominated by , and , whereas the cold water community was dominated by and ctenophores. Physonect siphonophores contributed > 36% to the gelatinous biomass in the warm water community, and their widespread distribution suggests they are ecologically more important than previously thought. A distinct oceanic influence was also recorded in the wider warm water zooplankton community, accounting for a ∼ 20 mg C m increase in biomass in that region.
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July 2019

Processive Recoding and Metazoan Evolution of Selenoprotein P: Up to 132 UGAs in Molluscs.

J Mol Biol 2019 11 20;431(22):4381-4407. Epub 2019 Aug 20.

Schools of Biochemistry & Microbiology, University College Cork, Ireland.

Selenoproteins typically contain a single selenocysteine, the 21st amino acid, encoded by a context-redefined UGA. However, human selenoprotein P (SelenoP) has a redox-functioning selenocysteine in its N-terminal domain and nine selenium transporter-functioning selenocysteines in its C-terminal domain. Here we show that diverse SelenoP genes are present across metazoa with highly variable numbers of Sec-UGAs, ranging from a single UGA in certain insects, to 9 in common spider, and up to 132 in bivalve molluscs. SelenoP genes were shaped by a dynamic evolutionary process linked to selenium usage. Gene evolution featured modular expansions of an ancestral multi-Sec domain, which led to particularly Sec-rich SelenoP proteins in many aquatic organisms. We focused on molluscs, and chose Pacific oyster Magallana gigas as experimental model. We show that oyster SelenoP mRNA with 46 UGAs is translated full-length in vivo. Ribosome profiling indicates that selenocysteine specification occurs with ∼5% efficiency at UGA1 and approaches 100% efficiency at distal 3' UGAs. We report genetic elements relevant to its expression, including a leader open reading frame and an RNA structure overlapping the initiation codon that modulates ribosome progression in a selenium-dependent manner. Unlike their mammalian counterparts, the two SECIS elements in oyster SelenoP (3'UTR recoding elements) do not show functional differentiation in vitro. Oysters can increase their tissue selenium level up to 50-fold upon supplementation, which also results in extensive changes in selenoprotein expression.
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November 2019

Gill damage to Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) caused by the common jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) under experimental challenge.

PLoS One 2011 Apr 7;6(4):e18529. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Coastal and Marine Research Centre, Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.

Background: Over recent decades jellyfish have caused fish kill events and recurrent gill problems in marine-farmed salmonids. Common jellyfish (Aurelia spp.) are among the most cosmopolitan jellyfish species in the oceans, with populations increasing in many coastal areas. The negative interaction between jellyfish and fish in aquaculture remains a poorly studied area of science. Thus, a recent fish mortality event in Ireland, involving Aurelia aurita, spurred an investigation into the effects of this jellyfish on marine-farmed salmon.

Methodology/principal Findings: To address the in vivo impact of the common jellyfish (A. aurita) on salmonids, we exposed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolts to macerated A. aurita for 10 hrs under experimental challenge. Gill tissues of control and experimental treatment groups were scored with a system that rated the damage between 0 and 21 using a range of primary and secondary parameters. Our results revealed that A. aurita rapidly and extensively damaged the gills of S. salar, with the pathogenesis of the disorder progressing even after the jellyfish were removed. After only 2 hrs of exposure, significant multi-focal damage to gill tissues was apparent. The nature and extent of the damage increased up to 48 hrs from the start of the challenge. Although the gills remained extensively damaged at 3 wks from the start of the challenge trial, shortening of the gill lamellae and organisation of the cells indicated an attempt to repair the damage suffered.

Conclusions: Our findings clearly demonstrate that A. aurita can cause severe gill problems in marine-farmed fish. With aquaculture predicted to expand worldwide and evidence suggesting that jellyfish populations are increasing in some areas, this threat to aquaculture is of rising concern as significant losses due to jellyfish could be expected to increase in the future.
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April 2011