A study of echinoderm immune agents with a special focus on the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa and constructing a comprehensive understanding of its health and well-being

Miller Jobson, Sara (2021) A study of echinoderm immune agents with a special focus on the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa and constructing a comprehensive understanding of its health and well-being. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Immune responses are among the most well recognized markers of health and well-being in animals; however, they remain far less studied in invertebrate than vertebrate models. Nevertheless, research on invertebrate taxa can provide valuable information on the evolution of innate immunity and subsequently lead to groundbreaking work in vertebrates, including mammals. As deuterostomes possessing remarkable regenerative abilities, echinoderms have held interdisciplinary research interest for decades, particularly in the fields of immunology and developmental biology. Echinoderms are also keystone representatives of marine ecosystems around the globe, and many are the target of exploitation, highlighting the importance of understanding their resilience to environmental and anthropogenic stress. To explore this, I first examined the cellular immune agents of 23 echinoderm species from all five extant classes of this phylum (holothuroids, echinoids, asteroids, ophiuroids, crinoids). I determined that the formation, morphology, and dynamics of coelomocyte aggregates in response to foreign material are fairly conserved across taxa, with some characteristics distinct to each class, including the nature of initial catalysts, pigmentation and the expulsion pathways. Secondly, I examined several bioindicators of stress (cellular, hormonal, and behavioural responses) within the commercial holothuroid Cucumaria frondosa after exposure to stressors common within the fisheries industry (e.g., lower salinities and air exposure at various temperatures). Cucumaria. frondosa displayed measurables responses in all bioindicators that were proportional to the severity of the stress encountered. This research serves both an academic and industry purpose as it further characterizes echinoderm immunity and demonstrates how this information is valuable for stakeholders aiming to sustainably exploit or protect valuable marine resources.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/15660
Item ID: 15660
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 164-171)
Keywords: immunity, coelomocytes, cortisol, stress, aggregates
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Ocean Sciences
Date: August 2021
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.48336/6F1K-TE25
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Sea cucumbers; Immunity; Immune response; Hydrocortisone; Set theory; Echinodermata

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