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Stress indicators and the effect of environmental stressors in Pacific oysters



The main goals of this research are to determine the stress response, using multiple stress biomarkers, of Pacific oysters exposed to high temperature and harmful algae in laboratory conditions, as well as to establish the environmental conditions eliciting a stress response in oysters at a farm site. These are necessary to be able to predict and avoid the occurrence of irreversible stressors, leading to large-scale mortalities of BC cultured shellfish.

The first objective is to test and calibrate in the laboratory existing stress indicator techniques (HSP 70 and NRR) in Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) using heat-shock treatment as a model stressor. The second objective is to test and compare in the laboratory other stress indicators (metalloproteases and ubiquitin conjugates) for their utility in assessing Crassostrea gigas stress levels. The third objective is to investigate the effect of temperature and harmful algae on stress bio-indicators and survivorship of cultured Pacific oyster under laboratory conditions. The fourth objective is to determine during an entire annual cycle the in situ levels of these multiple stress biomarkers (HSP 70, NRR, metalloproteases and ubiquitin conjugates) in Pacific oysters at a farm site in the East coast of Vancouver Island, and the environmental conditions at the site.

We aim to correlate various environmental conditions with high levels of stress in the oysters.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2006 - 2008


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Chris Pearce

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