Exposure to CO2 influences metabolism, calcification and gene expression of the thecosome pteropod Limacina retroversa

Thecosomatous pteropods, a group of aragonite shell-bearing zooplankton, are becoming an important sentinel organism for understanding the influence of ocean acidification on pelagic organisms. These animals show vulnerability to changing carbonate chemistry conditions, are geographically widespread, and are both biogeochemically and trophically important. The objective of this study was to determine how increasing duration and severity of CO2 treatment influence the physiology of the thecosome Limacina retroversa, integrating both gene expression and organism-level (respiration and calcification) metrics. We exposed pteropods to over-saturated, near-saturated or under-saturated conditions and sampled individuals at 1, 3, 7, 14 and 21 days of exposure to test for the effect of duration. We found that calcification was affected by borderline and under-saturated conditions by week two, while respiration appeared to be more strongly influenced by an interaction between severity and duration of exposure, showing complex changes by one week of exposure. The organismal metrics were corroborated by specific gene expression responses, with increased expression of biomineralization-associated genes in the medium and high treatments throughout and complex changes in metabolic genes corresponding to both captivity and CO2 treatment. Genes associated with other physiological processes such as lipid metabolism, neural function and ion pumping had complex responses, influenced by both duration and severity. Beyond these responses, our findings detail the captivity effects for these pelagic organisms, providing information to contextualize the conclusions of previous studies, and emphasizing a need for better culturing protocols.

Maas A. E., Lawson G. L., Bergan A. J. & Tarrant A. M., 2018. Exposure to CO2 influences metabolism, calcification and gene expression of the thecosome pteropod Limacina retroversaJournal of Experimental Biology 221: jeb164400. doi:10.1242/jeb.164400. Article (subscription required).

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