A proteomic investigation of the heat stress response of the South African abalone haliotis midae

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The abalone Haliotis midae has been fished to near-extinction on the South African coastline, primarily to satisfy a growing international market. In order to meet demands, H. midae has been produced in South Africa by aquaculture for several decades, and the South African abalone aquaculture industry continues to expand. Internationally, abalone aquaculture has been actively affected by the outbreak of bacterial and viral diseases, which spread rapidly and lead to high abalone mortality. There is evidence that environmental stresses on abalone farms may lead to immunosuppression, and thereby increase the severity of disease outbreaks. The water temperature on abalone farms fluctuates seasonally, and increased abalone mortality has been associated with warmer water during the summer months. However, the molecular mechanisms affecting the abalone during exposure to stress remain unclear. With advances in proteomics technology, it is possible to identify and quantify the expression of several hundred proteins simultaneously. This study therefore aimed to gain insight into the H. midae stress response by using proteomic tools to identify proteins that are differentially regulated in haemocytes during exposure to acute heat stress. Identifying which biochemical pathways are involved in the abalone stress response will give some insight into the molecular mechanism by which H. midae responds to heat stress.

Includes bibliographical references.