Journal of experimental zoology. Part A, Ecological genetics and physiology

Thiotaurine and hypotaurine contents in hydrothermal-vent polychaetes without thiotrophic endosymbionts: correlation With sulfide exposure.

PMID 19402134


Invertebrates at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps must cope with toxic H(2)S. One proposed protection mechanism involves taurine derivatives: At vents and seeps, many animals have high levels of hypotaurine and thiotaurine (a product of hypotaurine and HS), originally found in animals with thiotrophic endosymbionts. To further test the role of these compounds, we analyzed them in vent polychaetes without endosymbionts: Paralvinella sulfincola, P. palmiformis and P. pandorae (paralvinellids) and Nicomache venticola (maldanid). P. sulfincola were collected from a high temperature (42-68 degrees C) and a warm site (21-35 degrees C). P. palmiformis and pandorae were from cool sites (12-18 degrees C) and N. venticola were from a cold site (4 degrees C). H(2)S concentrations in vent effluent largely correlate with temperature. Some specimens were frozen; other ones were kept alive in laboratory chambers, with and without sulfide. Tissues were analyzed for taurine derivatives and other solutes that serve as organic osmolytes. The major osmolyte of all species was glycine. Thiotaurine contents were significantly different among all species, in the order P. sulfincola hot>P. sulfincola warm>P. pandorae>P. palmiformis>N. venticola. P. sulfincola also had high levels of sarcosine; others species had none. Sarcosine and hypotaurine contents of P. sulfincola's branchiae were higher, while glycine contents were lower, than in main body. In P. palmiformis kept in pressure chambers with sulfide, thiotaurine contents were higher and hypotaurine lower than in those kept without sulfide. These results support the hypothesis that conversion of hypotaurine to thiotaurine detoxifies sulfide in vent animals without endosymbionts.