Adaptation and acclimation of aerobic exercise physiology in Lake Whitefish ecotypes (Coregonus clupeaformis)
The physiological mechanisms underlying local adaptation in natural populations of animals, and whether the same mechanisms contribute to adaptation and acclimation, are largely unknown. Therefore, we tested for evolutionary divergence in aerobic exercise physiology in laboratory bred, size-matched crosses of ancestral, benthic, normal Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and derived, limnetic, more actively swimming "dwarf" ecotypes. We acclimated fish to constant swimming (emulating limnetic foraging) and control conditions (emulating normal activity levels) to simultaneously study phenotypic plasticity. We found extensive divergence between ecotypes: dwarf fish generally had constitutively higher values of traits related to oxygen transport (ventricle size) and use by skeletal muscle (percent oxidative muscle, mitochondrial content), and also evolved differential plasticity of mitochondrial function (Complex I activity and flux through Complexes I-IV and IV). The effects of swim training were less pronounced than differences among ecotypes and the traits which had a significant training effect (ventricle protein content, ventricle malate dehydrogenase activity, and muscle Complex V activity) did not differ among ecotypes. Only one trait, ventricle mass, varied in a similar manner with acclimation and adaptation and followed a pattern consistent with genetic accommodation. Overall, the physiological and biochemical mechanisms underlying acclimation and adaptation to swimming activity in Lake Whitefish differ.
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