How does Mytilus galloprovincialis respond when exposed to the gametophyte phase of the invasive red macroalga Asparagopsis armata exudate?
Asparagopsis armata is classified as an invasive species in Europe. Through the exudation of secondary metabolites, this macroalga holds a chemical defence against consumers, with potential toxic effects to native rocky shore communities. This study aims to evaluate the potential impact of A. armata (gametophyte) exudate in a native species, the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis, in terms of biochemical and organismal effects. The 96 h-LC50 was 3.667% and based on it, exudate concentrations (0.25; 0.5; 1; 2%) were determined to further sublethal experiments. These sublethal concentrations caused no oxidative damage in the digestive gland since lipid peroxidation and protein carbonylation were not affected. Nevertheless, there was a significant rise in the electron transport system activity and total glutathione content in muscle, suggesting an increased non-enzymatic antioxidant capacity and consequent energy consumption to cope with potential pro-oxidant compounds. This might have contributed to the observed decline in cellular energy allocation of the exposed mussels. At the organismal level, clearance capacity declined along the concentration gradient. Moreover, the number of functional byssuses decreased with increasing concentrations and a significant reduction in their attachment strength was observed. These findings suggest that the presence of A. armata may compromise M. galloprovincialis integrity in the invaded coastal areas.