Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Laccase and catecholoxidase activities contribute to innate immunity in slipper limpets, Crepidula fornicata.

Abstract

The slipper limpet Crepidula fornicata is an invasive, non-native, marine species found throughout the coastal waters of southern England and Wales, UK. These limpets are considered to blight commercial shellfish banks, notably oysters, yet little is known about their disease-carrying capacity or their immunobiology. To address the latter, we isolated haemolymph (blood) from limpets and tested for the presence of the immune-enzyme phenoloxidase. Invertebrate phenoloxidases produce melanic polymers from simple phenolic substrates, which are deployed in the presence of pathogens because of their potent microbicidal and microbiostatic properties. We used a series of established substrates (e.g., tyrosine, hydroquinone) and inhibitors (e.g., 4-hexylresorcinol, benzoic acid) to target three distinct enzymes: laccase (para-diphenoloxidase), catecholoxidase (ortho-diphenoloxidase) and tyrosinase (monophenoloxidase). We confirmed laccase and catecholoxidase activities and characterised their kinetic properties across temperature and pH gradients (5-70°C and 5-10, respectively). Crucially, we demonstrated that products derived from such laccase and catecholoxidase activities reduced significantly the numbers of colony-forming units of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in vitro. We further screened limpet tissues for signs of melanin using wax histology, and found cells replete with eumelanin-like pigments and lipofuscin in the digestive gland, connective tissues, barrier epithelia and gills. Our data represent the first account of enzyme-based antibacterial defences, notably laccase, in C. fornicata.