Gene by environmental interactions affecting oxidative phosphorylation and thermal sensitivity

Tara Z. Baris, Pierre U. Blier, Nicolas Pichaud, Douglas L. Crawford, Marjorie F. Oleksiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) pathway is responsible for most aerobic ATP production and is the only metabolic pathway with proteins encoded by both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. In studies examining mitonuclear interactions among distant populations within a species or across species, the interactions between these two genomes can affect metabolism, growth, and fitness, depending on the environment. However, there is little data on whether these interactions impact natural populations within a single species. In an admixed Fundulus heteroclitus population with northern and southern mitochondrial haplotypes, there are significant differences in allele frequencies associated with mitochondrial haplotype. In this study, we investigate how mitochondrial haplotype and any associated nuclear differences affect six OxPhos parameters within a population. The data demonstrate significant OxPhos functional differences between the two mitochondrial genotypes. These differences are most apparent when individuals are acclimated to high temperatures with the southern mitochondrial genotype having a large acute response and the northern mitochondrial genotype having little, if any acute response. Furthermore, acute temperature effects and the relative contribution of Complex I and II depend on acclimation temperature: when individuals are acclimated to 12°C, the relative contribution of Complex I increases with higher acute temperatures, whereas at 28°C acclimation, the relative contribution of Complex I is unaffected by acute temperature change. These data demonstrate a complex gene by environmental interaction affecting the OxPhos pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R157-R165
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2016


  • Epistasis
  • Fundulus heteroclitus
  • Metabolism
  • Mitochondria
  • Thermal performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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