Sub-lethal and lethal toxicities of elevated CO2 on embryonic, juvenile, and adult stages of marine medaka Oryzias melastigma


• Adverse effects of elevated CO2 varied cross developmental stages of marine medaka.

• Embryo developmental delay to elevated CO2 showed in concentration-dependent manner.

• Middle stage of development was the most sensitive period to CO2 exposure for mortality.

• Despite transfer to clean water, CO2 exposed embryos could not be recovered.

• Key symptoms by elevated CO2 exposure encompassed mortality and cardiac edema.


The potential leakage from marine CO2 storage sites is of increasing concern, but few studies have evaluated the probable adverse effects on marine organisms. Fish, one of the top predators in marine environments, should be an essential representative species used for water column toxicity testing in response to waterborne CO2 exposure. In the present study, we conducted fish life cycle toxicity tests to fully elucidate CO2 toxicity mechanism effects. We tested sub-lethal and lethal toxicities of elevated CO2 concentrations on marine medaka (Oryzias melastigma) at different developmental stages. At each developmental stage, the test species was exposed to varying concentrations of gaseous CO2 (control air, 5%, 10%, 20%, and 30%), with 96 h of exposure at 0–4 d (early stage), 4–8 d (middle stage), and 8–12 d (late stage). Sub-lethal and lethal effects, including early developmental delays, cardiac edema, tail abnormalities, abnormal pigmentation, and mortality were monitored daily during the 14 d exposure period. At the embryonic stage, significant sub-lethal and lethal effects were observed at pH < 6.30. Hypercapnia can cause long-term and/or delayed developmental embryonic problems, even after transfer back to clean seawater. At fish juvenile and adult stages, significant mortality was observed at pH < 5.70, indicating elevated CO2 exposure might cause various adverse effects, even during short-term exposure periods. It should be noted the early embryonic stage was found more sensitive to CO2 exposure than other developmental stages of the fish life cycle. Overall, the present study provided baseline information for potential adverse effects of high CO2 concentration exposure on fish developmental processes at different life cycle stages in marine ecosystems.

Lee C., Kwon B.-O., Hong S., Noh J., Lee J., Ryu J., Kang S.-G. & Khim J. S., 2018. Sub-lethal and lethal toxicities of elevated CO2 on embryonic, juvenile, and adult stages of marine medaka Oryzias melastigma. Environmental Pollution 241: 586-595. Article (subscription required).

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