University Of Tasmania

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Investigating the biochemical effects of heat stress and sample quenching approach on the metabolic profiling of abalone (Haliotis iris)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 09:32 authored by Nguyen, TV, Alfaro, A, Frost, E, Chen, D, Beale, DJ, Craig MundyCraig Mundy


Ocean temperatures have been consistently increasing due to climate change, and the frequency of heatwave events on shellfish quality is a growing concern worldwide. Typically, shellfish growing areas are in remote or difficult to access locations which makes in-field sampling and sample preservation of shellfish heat stress difficult. As such, there is a need to investigate in-field sampling approaches that facilitate the study of heat stress in shellfish.


This study aims to apply a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) based metabolomics approach to examine molecular mechanisms of heat stress responses in shellfish using abalone as a model, and compare the effects of different quenching protocols on abalone metabolic profiles.


Twenty adult Haliotis iris abalone were exposed to two temperatures (14 °C and 24 °C) for 24 h. Then, haemolymph and muscle tissues of each animal were sampled and quenched with 4 different protocols (liquid nitrogen, dry ice, cold methanol solution and normal ice) which were analyzed via GC–MS for central carbon metabolites.


The effects of different quenching protocols were only observed in muscle tissues in which the cold methanol solution and normal ice caused some changes in the observed metabolic profiles, compared to dry ice and liquid nitrogen. Abalone muscle tissues were less affected by thermal stress than haemolymph. There were 10 and 46 compounds significantly influenced by thermal stress in muscle and haemolymph, respectively. The changes of these metabolite signatures indicate oxidative damage, disturbance of amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, and a shift from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic pathways.


The study provided insights into the heat response of abalone, which could be useful for understanding the effects of marine heatwaves and summer mortality events on abalone. Dry ice appeared to be a suitable protocol, and safer in-field alternative to liquid nitrogen, for quenching of abalone tissues.


Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania


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Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Springer New York LLC

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright (2021) The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2021.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Wild caught edible molluscs