High resolution microscopy reveals significant impacts of ocean acidification and warming on larval shell development in Laternula elliptica

Environmental stressors impact marine larval growth rates, quality and sizes. Larvae of the Antarctic bivalve, Laternula elliptica, were raised to the D-larvae stage under temperature and pH conditions representing ambient and end of century projections (-1.6°C to +0.4°C and pH 7.98 to 7.65). Previous observations using light microscopy suggested pH had no influence on larval abnormalities in this species. Detailed analysis of the shell using SEM showed that reduced pH is in fact a major stressor during development for this species, producing D-larvae with abnormal shapes, deformed shell edges and irregular hinges, cracked shell surfaces and even uncalcified larvae. Additionally, reduced pH increased pitting and cracking on shell surfaces. Thus, apparently normal larvae may be compromised at the ultrastructural level and these larvae would be in poor condition at settlement, reducing juvenile recruitment and overall survival. Elevated temperatures increased prodissoconch II sizes. However, the overall impacts on larval shell quality and integrity with concurrent ocean acidification would likely overshadow any beneficial results from warmer temperatures, limiting populations of this prevalent Antarctic species.

Bylenga C. H, Cummings V. J. & Ryan K. G., 2017. High resolution microscopy reveals significant impacts of ocean acidification and warming on larval shell development in Laternula elliptica. PLoS ONE 12(4):e0175706. Article.


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