The Effects of Continuous Acoustic Stress on ROS Levels and Antioxidant-related Gene Expression in the Black Porgy (Acanthopagrus schlegelii)
Zoological Studies 57: 59 (2018)
Hao-Yi Chang, Yi Ta Shao
Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean University
Department of Marine Biodiversity Research, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
Fisheries Department, Kagoshima University
Short-term exposure to strong underwater noise is known to seriously impact fish. However, the chronic physiological effects of continuous exposure to weak noise, i.e. the operation noise from offshore wind farms (OWF), remain unclear. Since more and more OWF will be built in the near future, their operation noise is an emerging ecological issue. To investigate the long-term physiological effects of such underwater noise on fish, black porgies (Acanthopagrus schlegelii) were exposed to two types of simulated wind farm noise—quiet (QC: 109 dB re 1 μPa / 125.4 Hz; approx. 100 m away from the wind turbine) and noisy (NC: 138 dB re 1 μPa / 125.4 Hz; near the turbine)—for up to 2 weeks. Measurement of auditory-evoked potentials showed that black porgies can hear sound stimuli under both NC and QC scenarios. Although no significant difference was found in plasma cortisol levels, the fish under NC conditions exhibited higher plasma reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels than the control group at week 2. Moreover, alterations were found in mRNA levels of hepatic antioxidant-related genes (sod1, cat and gpx), with cat downregulated and gpxupregulated after one week of QC exposure. Our results suggest that the black porgy may adapt to QC levels of noise by modulating the antioxidant system to keep ROS levels low. However, such antioxidant response was not observed under NC conditions; instead, ROS accumulated to measurably higher levels. This study suggests that continuous OWF operation noise represents a potential stressor to fish. Furthermore, this is the first study to demonstrate that chronic exposure to noise could induce ROS accumulation in fish plasma.