Respiratory adaptations to the deep-sea hydrothermal vent environment: the case of Segonzacia mesatlantica, a crab from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Micron. 2004;35(1-2):31-41. doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2003.10.010.


Segonzacia mesatlantica (Crustacea; Decapoda; Brachyura) is the only endemic crab species known from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) hydrothermal vents. Known from all explored sites in the Atlantic, its wide distribution makes this species a model to study physiological adaptation, and specifically respiratory strategies. Native haemocyanin (Hc) comprises four non-covalent associations in equilibrium formed by monomers, hexamers, dodecamers and octadecamers made up of approximately 75 kDa polypeptide chains. Four different amino acid chains are observed with a molecular mass ranging from 75,234 to 75,972 Da. Experiments carried-out under pressure suggested that the percentage of monomer increased in the haemolymph under hypoxic condition. We have also observed a shift of the proportion of the two dodecamer series, suggesting a rapid modification of the Hc phenotype between hypoxic and hyperoxic conditions. Native Hc possesses a high oxygen affinity ( P50 = 2.2 Torr at 15 degrees C and pH 7.5), a large Bohr effect (Deltalog P50 / DeltapH approximately -2.7) and a slightly reverse temperature effect (DeltaH = +17.19 kJ mol(-1). The composition of Segonzacia haemolymph is similar to that of other littoral species except for the large enrichment in free copper and zinc. As for other species from hydrothermal vent sites, Segonzacia haemolymph possesses a higher buffer capacity than littoral species. Moreover, species from the hydrothermal vent decapods from Pacific hydrothermal vent that encounter higher CO2 content in their environment have a higher buffer capacity than Atlantic vent species. The results presented are discussed in relation with the physico-chemical characteristics of the hydrothermal vent environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Brachyura / chemistry*
  • Brachyura / physiology*
  • Hemocyanins / chemistry*
  • Hemocyanins / physiology
  • Hemolymph / chemistry
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Respiration


  • Hemocyanins