Nano-ZnO impairs anti-predation capacity of marine mussels under seawater acidification


• The anti-predation behavior of mussels is induced by predator.

• Low pH and nano-ZnO synergistically reduced the anti-predation behavior of mussels.

• Nano-ZnO and seawater acidification may change the predator-prey dynamics in the environment.


Artificial nanoparticles and ocean acidification (OA) caused by the rapid increase of CO2 absorbed by the ocean are both ecologically hazardous to marine organisms. The combined effects of the two environmental stressors on the anti-predation ability of marine mussels were studied. Mytilus coruscus was exposed to three different gradient concentrations of nano-ZnO (0, 2.5, 10 mg/L) in combination of two pH levels (7.7 and 8.1). The crab Charybdis japonica was used as its predator. During the experiment, anti-predator indexes, including number of byssus threads (NBT), shell-closing strength (SCS), diameter of byssus thread (BTD), length of byssus thread (BTL), cumulative length of byssus thread (CBTL) and cumulative volume of byssus thread (CBTV) were studied. The results showed that predator induced the anti-predation responses in M. coruscus, and NBT, SCS, BTL, CBTL and CBTV were significantly increased. Under the conditions of pH 7.7 and 10 mg/L nano-ZnO, NBT, SCS, BTD, BTL, CBTL, and CBTV were significantly reduced. What’s more, significant interactions among pH, nano-ZnO and predator were observed in CBTL and CBTV. Therefore, the joint treatment of nano-ZnO and low pH reduces the adhesion strength of byssus thread and may increase the probability of mussels being preyed.

Shang Y., Wang X., Kong H., Huang W., Hu M. & Wang Y., in press. Nano-ZnO impairs anti-predation capacity of marine mussels under seawater acidification. Journal of Hazardous Materials. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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