Thermal Stress Effects on Gene Expression and Phagocytosis in the Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio): a Better Understanding of the Summer 2001 st. Lawrence River Fish Kill

Valérie Ouellet1, 2, *, Fabien Pierron3, Marc Mingelbier4, Michel Fournier4, Marlène Fournier4, Patrice Couture1
1 INRS – Centre Eau Terre Environnement, 490 de la Couronne, Québec, G1K 9A9, Canada
2 Canadian Rivers Institute, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N. B. Canada
3 Ministère des ressources naturelles et de la faune du Québec, Service de la Faune Aquatique, 880 chemin Sainte-Foy, 2e étage, Québec, G1S 4X4, Canada
2 INRS – Institut Armand Frappier, 531 boul. des Prairies, Laval, H7V 1B7, Canada

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© 2013 Ouellet et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the INRS – Centre Eau Terre Environnement, 490 de la Couronne, Québec, G1K 9A9, Canada; Tel: 418-809-7953; Fax: 418-654-2600; E-mail:


In summer 2001, the St. Lawrence River (Québec, Canada) experienced perhaps the largest massive fish kill of its history, with more than 25 000 carp (Cyprinus carpio) found dead. This experiment therefore investigated the effects of heat stress on the gene transcription level of heat shock protein 70, cytochrome c oxidase and mitochondrial superoxide dismutase expression as well as on phagocytosis of kidney cell suspensions and animal behaviour. Our study suggests that in summer 2001, elevated water temperatures could have contributed to the fish kill through immunosuppression during an already stressful spawning period.

Keywords: Fish kill, Gene expression, Phagocytosis, St. lawrence river, Thermal stress.