Development of non-invasive stress biomarkers in octopuses
Rachel ThompsonJune 1, 2009
Octopuses are an important part of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. Recently,local populations have been experiencing declines due to pollution and large-scaleclimate processes. Non-invasive sampling techniques were developed in an attempt tocharacterize the physiological condition of adult octopuses in a controlled environment.Potential biomarkers of stress (proteins in epidermal mucus and behavior patterns) wereidentified, and could be useful in identifying a stressed state in an octopus in the wild or in captivity. Larval developmental patterns were established by analysis of the expressionof two important developmental genes, orthodenticle-like protein and hedgehog. Thisstudy serves to provide researchers and aquarists with baseline physiological data thatcould be used to identify a stressed state in an adult octopus, or an altered developmental pattern in larvae, using techniques that are less invasive than hemolymph or tissuesampling.
Octopuses are advanced invertebrates with a strong tie with the Pacific Northwest.Two local species are the Red Octopus (
) and the Giant PacificOctopus (
). Both are benthic species, with ranges along the EasternPacific Ocean from Mexico to Alaska. Recently, populations have been declining due toseveral factors, including pollution and large-scale climate processes affecting the PugetSound region (Rigby et al. 2005, Villanueva and Norman 2008). Octopus species areimportant prey items for higher predators in Puget Sound. Their conservation is essentialto the maintenance of the region’s trophic structure (Onthank and Cowles 2008).