Can shellfish adapt to ocean acidification?

Scientists peer into oyster and clam genomes to help the shellfish industry prepare for a change in ocean chemistry.

In the Pacific Northwest, oyster aficionados have likely tasted Chris Langdon’s scientific handiwork. Since 1996, his Molluscan Broodstock Program at Oregon State University has been breeding plump, fast-growing, and hardy oysters as stock for the $250 million West Coast oyster industry. But in the past several years, the program has taken on an additional goal: identifying oysters that are more resilient to ocean acidification.

In 2007, oyster hatcheries in Oregon and Washington began experiencing massive die-offs of their larvae that continued for several years. Eventually, managers and scientists realized that the larvae were dying during periods of strong upwelling, when deep waters rich in CO2 and low in pH come to the surface. These deep waters were even more acidified than in the past because of the oceans’ growing uptake of CO2 as its levels in the atmosphere increase. (…)

Lockwood D., 2017. Can shellfish adapt to ocean acidification? ACS Central Science 3(4):263–265. Article.

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