Plasticity of coral physiology under ocean acidification

Coral reefs are oases of life in the oceans, harbouring more than a quarter of all marine species. These vibrant ecosystems are founded on reef structures that are built by the CaCO3 skeletons of “stony” scleractinian corals. While productive and biodiverse, coral reef ecosystems are sensitive to many elements of global environmental change, including “ocean acidification” which impairs the capacity of corals to build their skeletons by calcification [1]. Ocean acidification is driven by seawater-uptake of rising atmospheric pCO2 and involves changes in seawater carbonate chemistry associated with decreasing seawater pH. Meta-analysis of published data suggests that ocean acidification will cause a worrying decline in reef coral calcification rates by the end of the 21st century [2], but exactly how and why ocean acidification affects coral calcification isn’t well understood at a physiological level.

Venn A., Tambutté E. & Tambutté S., 2015. Plasticity of coral physiology under ocean acidification. Oncotarget 6(21): 18248-18249. Article.

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