Thyroid hormone regulation of thermal acclimation in ectotherms: Physiological mechanisms and ecoevolutionary implications
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The pathways that regulate adaptive thermal plasticity in ectothermic vertebrates have received little attention relative to those in birds and mammals. However, there is increasing evidence that thyroid hormone represents a critical regulator of thermal plasticity in both ectothermic and endothermic vertebrates. In this review, I summarize the evidence for thyroid hormone-mediated thermal compensation responses in ectothermic vertebrates, with specific focus on effects on the whole animal, skeletal muscle, and cardiac muscle. Interestingly, these effects can differ wildly between focal tissues and species. I move on to discuss what the role of thyroid hormone in ectotherm thermal plasticity can reveal about stressor interactions and central vs. peripheral levels of thyroid hormone regulation. Lastly, I focus on the conserved nature of thyroid hormone signaling in animal thermal responses, with specific reference to the ectotherm → endotherm spectrum. I use this framework to highlight research avenues that will further resolve the evolutionary trajectory of thyroid hormone actions across animals. I hope to emphasize what thyroid hormone-mediated cold acclimation in a 3 cm fish can contribute to ongoing debates surrounding the impacts of stressor interactions, the potential costs of plasticity, the evolution of endothermy, and the impacts of global change.
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