Ocean acidification alters skeletogenisis in larvae of the sea urchin Lytechinus pictus: evidence from morphometric and microarray data

Ocean acidification, the reduction of ocean pH via the absorption of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2, is expected to impact marine ecosystems through effects on marine calcifying organisms. These impacts are not well understood at the community and ecosystem levels. A current focus in ocean acidification research is to understand the resilience organisms possess to withstand such changes, and to extend these investigations beyond calcification, addressing impacts on other vulnerable physiological processes. Using morphometric methods and gene expression profiling with a DNA microarray, we explore the impacts of high CO2 conditions on development of the sea urchin, Lytechinus pictus, a pelagic larvae that forms a calcium carbonate endoskeleton. Larvae were raised from fertilization to pluteus stage in seawater with elevated CO2 conditions based upon IPCC emissions scenarios. Morphometric analysis showed significant effects of enhanced CO2 on both size and shape of larvae; those grown in a high CO2 environment were smaller, and with a more triangular body than those raised in normal CO2 conditions. Gene expression profiling showed that numerous genes central to energy metabolism and biomineralization were down-regulated in the larvae in response to elevated CO2, whereas only a few genes in ion regulation and acid-base balance pathways were induced. These results suggest that, although larvae are able to form an endoskeleton, development at elevated CO2 levels has consequences for physiological function as shown by changes in the larval transcriptome.



O’Donnell, M. J., Todgham, A. E., Sewell, M. A., Hammond, L. M., Ruggiero, K., Fangue, N. A., Zippay, M. L., & Hofmann, G. E., 2009. Ocean acidification alters skeletogenisis in larvae of the sea urchin Lytechinus pictus: evidence from morphometric and microarray data. Integrative and Comparative Biology 49: E125-E125. Meeting abstract.

Conference Information: Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Integrative-and-Comparative-Biology
Boston, MA, January 03-07, 2009

1 Response to “Ocean acidification alters skeletogenisis in larvae of the sea urchin Lytechinus pictus: evidence from morphometric and microarray data”



  1. 1 Ocean acidification and calcified Antarctic seafloor macroorganisms: The perfect storm « Ocean acidification Trackback on 8 September 2009 at 10:18

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