The ability to understand and predict the effects of environmental stress on biodiversity is becoming increasingly important in our changing environment. Antarctic marine species are some of the most stenothermal on the planet and many inhabit the waters off the Antarctic Peninsula which is one of the areas where there is rapid regional climate change. Therefore these animals are highly vulnerable to changing environmental temperatures and clearly we need to understand the complexities of their response, not just at the individual species level, but also the implications for the ecosystem as a whole. Heat shock proteins have a long history of use in studies of organism stress responses and have frequently been proposed as potential universal molecular biomarkers, especially for non-model species. In this mini-review, the heat shock response and heat shock proteins (specifically the HSP70 family) are examined in Antarctic marine species alongside their physiological capabilities and limits to answer a series of questions: do these animals have a heat shock response which includes the expression of HSP70 genes? What is the relationship between their heat shock response and physiological capabilities? Can HSP70 genes be used as molecular biomarkers for these species? Crown Copyright (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserve
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