Coping with predator stress: interclonal differences in induction of heat-shock proteins in the water flea Daphnia magna


Kevin Pauwels, Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, K.U. Leuven, Ch. de Bériotstraat 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Tel.: +32 16 32 3857; fax: +32 16 32 4575;


Although predation is a strong selection pressure, little is known about the molecular mechanisms to cope with predator stress. This is crucial to understanding of the mechanisms and constraints involved in the evolution of antipredator traits. We quantified the expression of heat-shock protein 60 (Hsp60), a potential marker for predator stress, in four clones of the water flea Daphnia magna, when exposed to fish kairomones. Expression of Hsp60 induction increased after 6 h and returned to base levels after 24 h of predator stress. This suggests that it is a costly transient mechanism to temporarily cope with novel predator stress, before other defences are induced. We found genetic variation in the fixed levels and in the fish-induced levels of Hsp60, which seemed to be linked to each clone's history of fish predation. Our data suggest that Hsp60 can be considered part of a multiple-trait antipredator defence strategy of Daphnia clones to cope with predator stress.