Characterizing the effects of ocean acidification in larval and juvenile Manila clam, Ruditapes philippinarum, using a transcriptomic approach

Ocean acidification as a result of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions and global climate change poses a risk to the ecological landscape of intertidal and shallow subtidal communities. The organisms that inhabit these waters will have to cope with changing environmental conditions through the appropriate modulation of physiological processes. Calcifying organisms are particularly at risk, as increased atmospheric levels of CO 2 in the atmosphere increase the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) in the oceans. Increased pCO2 reduces the saturation of carbonate minerals required to form calcified structures. Being able to cope with the increased energetic demand of maintaining these structures, in addition to other vital physiological processes, will be the key driver that determines which organisms will persist. Assessment of larval and juvenile Manila clam mortality and physiology in this study suggests that this species is capable of coping with elevated pCO2 conditions. The use of high throughput sequencing and RNA sequence analysis in larval clams revealed several physiological processes that play important roles in the Manila clam’s ability to tolerate elevated pCO2 conditions during this life stage. Exposure of juvenile Manila clams, acclimated to elevated pCO2 conditions, to a thermal stress revealed that this species might also be capable of coping with multiple stressors associated with global climate change. Manila clams could therefore represent a model for studying physiological mechanisms associated with successful acclimation of populations to ocean acidification.

Metzger D. C., 2012. Characterizing the effects of ocean acidification in larval and juvenile Manila clam, Ruditapes philippinarum, using a transcriptomic approach. MSc thesis, University of Washington, 48 p. Thesis (subscription required).


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