Limpets counteract ocean acidification induced shell corrosion by thickening of aragonitic shell layers

Specimens of the patellogastropod limpet Patella caerulea were collected within (pHlow-shells) and outside (pHn-shells) a CO2 vent site at Ischia, Italy. Four pHlow-shells and four pHn-shells were sectioned transversally and scanned for polymorph distribution by means of confocal Raman microscopy. The pHlow-shells displayed a twofold increase in aragonite area fraction and size normalised aragonite area. Size normalised calcite area was halved in pHlow-shells. Taken together with the increased apical and the decreased flank size normalised thickness of the pHlow-shells, these data led us to conclude that low pH exposed P. caerulea specimens counteract shell dissolution by enhanced shell production. The latter is different from normal elongation growth and proceeds through addition of aragonitic layers only, while the production of calcitic layers is confined to elongation growth. Therefore aragonite cannot be regarded as a per se disadvantageous polymorph under ocean acidification conditions.

Langer G., Nehrke G., Baggini C., Rodolfo-Metalpa R., Hall-Spencer J. & Bijma J., 2014. Limpets counteract ocean acidification induced shell corrosion by thickening of aragonitic shell layers. Biogeosciences Discussions 11:12571-12590. Article.

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