Transgenerational acclimation to changes in ocean acidification in marine invertebrates


• OA declines in ocean pH due to dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2 induced by anthropogenic activity.

• Changes in OA cause both direct and indirect physiological effects in marine invertebrates.

• Long-term exposure to OA stress over transgeneration may result in adaptive mechanism

• Transgenerational studies have elucidated the roles of acclimation and evolutionary adaptation in response to OA.

• Marine invertebrates possess various transgenerational mechanisms in response to changes in OA.


The rapid pace of increasing oceanic acidity poses a major threat to the fitness of the marine ecosystem, as well as the buffering capacity of the oceans. Disruption in chemical equilibrium in the ocean leads to decreased carbonate ion precipitation, resulting in calcium carbonate saturation. If these trends continue, calcifying invertebrates will experience difficultly maintaining their calcium carbonate exoskeleton and shells. Because malfunction of exoskeleton formation by calcifiers in response to ocean acidification (OA) will have non-canonical biological cascading results in the marine ecosystem, many studies have investigated the direct and indirect consequences of OA on ecosystem- and physiology-related traits of marine invertebrates. Considering that evolutionary adaptation to OA depends on the duration of OA effects, long-term exposure to OA stress over multi-generations may result in adaptive mechanisms that increase the potential fitness of marine invertebrates in response to OA. Transgenerational studies have the potential to elucidate the roles of acclimation, carryover effects, and evolutionary adaptation within and over generations in response to OA. In particular, understanding mechanisms of transgenerational responses (e.g., antioxidant responses, metabolic changes, epigenetic reprogramming) to changes in OA will enhance our understanding of marine invertebrate in response to rapid climate change.

Lee Y. H., Jeong C.-B., Wang M., Hagiwara A. & Lee J.-S., 2020. Transgenerational acclimation to changes in ocean acidification in marine invertebrates. Marine Pollution Bulletin 153: 111006. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111006. Article (subscription required).

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