Robustness of Adamussium colbecki shell to ocean acidification in a short-term exposure


• Adamussium colbecki shell crystals deposition is not affected by low pH exposure.

• A. colbecki shell resulted robust to low pH exposure in terms of micro and nano-mechanics.

• Larger resilience of Antarctic communities to predation than foreseen in a Global Change scenario.


Atmospheric pCO2 has increased since the industrial revolution leading to a lowering of the ocean surface water pH, a phenomenon called ocean acidification (OA). OA is claimed to be a major threat for marine organisms and ecosystems and, particularly, for Polar regions. We explored the impact of OA on the shell mechanical properties of the Antarctic scallop Adamussium colbecki exposed for one month to acidified (pH 7.6) and natural conditions (unmanipulated littoral water), by performing Scanning Electron Microscopy, nanoindentation and Vickers indentation on the scallop shell. No effect of pH could be detected either in crystal deposition or in the mechanical properties. A. colbecki shell was found to be resistant to OA, which suggests this species to be able to face a climate change scenario that may threat the persistence of the endemic Antarctic species. Further investigation should be carried out in order to elucidate the destiny of this key species in light of global change.

Dell’Acqua O., Trębala M., Chiantore M. & Hannula S.-P., in press. Robustness of Adamussium colbecki shell to ocean acidification in a short-term exposure. Marine Environmental Research. Article (subscription required).

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