Estimating salinity stress via hsp70 expression in the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus): implications for further range expansion

R. Puntila-Dodd*, D. Bekkevold, J. W. Behrens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Species invasions often occur on coasts and estuaries where abiotic conditions vary, e.g. salinity, temperature, runoff etc. Successful establishment and dispersal of non-indigenous species in many such systems are poorly understood, partially since the species tend to show genetic and ecological plasticity at population level towards many abiotic conditions, including salinity tolerance. Plasticity may be driven by shifting expression of heat shock proteins such as Hsp70, which is widely recognized as indicator of physical stress. In this study, we developed a qPCR assay for expression of the hsp70 gene in the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) and tested the expression response of fish collected from a brackish environment in the western Baltic Sea to three different salinities, 0, 10 and 30. hsp70 expression was highest in fresh water, indicating higher stress, and lower at brackish (ambient condition for the sampled population) and oceanic salinities, suggestive of low stress response to salinities above the population’s current distribution. The highest stress in fresh water was surprising since populations in fresh water exist, e.g. large European rivers and Laurentian Great Lakes. The results have implications to predictions for the species’ plasticity potential and possible range expansion of the species into other salinity regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-429
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Environmental stress
  • qPCR
  • Invasive species
  • Salinity tolerance
  • Biomarker

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