Spatial profiles of hsp70 proteins in Asian clam (Potamocorbula amurensis) in northern San Francisco Bay may be linked to natural rather than anthropogenic stressors.
For biomarkers to be useful in assessing anthropogenic impacts in field studies involving aquatic organisms, they should not be affected by naturally occurring changes in environmental parameters such as salinity. This is especially important in estuarine environments and for relatively unspecific biomarkers like heat-shock proteins (hsps, stress proteins). In this study, the heat-shock protein response was measured in the euryhaline clam, Potamocorbula amurensis, after exposure to a range of salinities reflecting normal and extreme environmental conditions in Northern San Francisco Bay, California. The ability to raise cellular hsp70 levels in response to heat-shock was significantly impaired in P. amurensis collected from a low (0.5 ppt) salinity field site, and after 14 day exposure to low salinity in the laboratory.