Phenotypic plasticity in three Daphnia genotypes in response to predator kairomone: evidence for an involvement of chitin deacetylases.
It is known that cyanobacteria negatively affect herbivores due to their production of toxins such as protease inhibitors. In the present study we investigated potential interspecific differences between two major herbivores, Daphnia magna and Daphnia pulex, in terms of their tolerance to cyanobacteria with protease inhibitors. Seven clones each of D. magna and of D. pulex were isolated from different habitats in Europe and North America. To test for interspecific differences in the daphnids' tolerance to cyanobacteria, their somatic and population growth rates were determined for each D. magna and D. pulex clone after exposure to varying concentrations of two Microcystis aeruginosa strains. The M. aeruginosa strains NIVA and PCC(-) contained either chymotrypsin or trypsin inhibitors, but no microcystins. Mean somatic and population growth rates on a diet with 20% NIVA were significantly more reduced in D. pulex than in D. magna. On a diet with 10% PCC(-), the population growth of D. pulex was significantly more reduced than that of D. magna. This indicates that D. magna is more tolerant to cyanobacteria with protease inhibitors than D. pulex. The reduction of growth rates was possibly caused by an interference of cyanobacterial inhibitors with proteases in the gut of Daphnia, as many other conceivable factors, which might have been able to explain the reduced growth, could be excluded as causal factors. Protease assays revealed that the sensitivities of chymotrypsins and trypsins to cyanobacterial protease inhibitors did not differ between D. magna and D. pulex. However, D. magna exhibited a 2.3-fold higher specific chymotrypsin activity than D. pulex, which explains the observed higher tolerance to cyanobacterial protease inhibitors of D. magna. The present study suggests that D. magna may control the development of cyanobacterial blooms more efficiently than D. pulex due to differences in their tolerance to cyanobacteria with protease inhibitors.