Flow cytometric characterization of hemocytes of the sunray venus clamMacrocallista nimbosaand influence of salinity variation

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Sunray venus clam Macrocallista nimbosa is a native bivalve mollusc of Florida, USA, currently evaluated as a potential new aquaculture species. Very little is known about the physiology and hemocyte characteristics of this species. Bivalve hemocytes are generally involved in various physiological functions including nutrition, tissue repair, detoxification and immune defense. Understanding hemocytes of M. nimbosa and their response to environmental variations is crucial. In estuarine Florida areas, salinity is probably the most important factor potentially affecting clams physiology since wide variations can occur within few days. In the present work, using flow cytometry, hemocyte types and cellular parameters (oxidative activity, lysosomal content, phagocytosis capacity) were first characterized in sunray venus clams, in relation with endogenous variables (i.e., size, body weight, gender). Clams were then transferred from salinity 30 psu to 18, 21, 25, 30, 35 and 38 psu. After 7 days, impact of salinity variations was determined on hemocyte parameters, along with estimation of physiological status of clams (mortality, valve closure, filtration activity). Hemocytes of sunray venus clam appeared as a unique population, both in terms of morphology (FSC vs. SSC) and intracellular parameters, but displayed high inter-individual variability. Allometric relationship was only described for intracellular oxidative activity. Transfer of clams to 18 psu and, at lower extent, 21 psu resulted in valve closure, mortality and decreased filtration activity. Low salinities resulted in reduction of the number of circulating hemocytes, potentially reflecting infiltration in tissues as part of an inflammatory response or to optimize nutrient distribution. Low salinities also highly impacted hemocytes as depicted by increased cell and lysosomal compartment volumes, decreased phagocytosis capacity as well as increased oxidative stress and mortality. Salinity drops depress physiology and immune defense capacities of sunray venus clams, potentially threatening survival in case of concomitant pathogen encounter or secondary stress.

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