Using transgenerational plasticity as an adaptation measure for ocean acidification impacts to abalone aquaculture

Following the dramatic decline of red abalone over the last 60 years, aquaculture has paved the way for restoration efforts and commercial opportunities. However, changes in certain oceanic conditions, such as ocean acidification (OA) resulting from increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, remain a challenge for aquaculture production. The increased acidity increases mortality rates and slows growth times for production abalone, which could have a significant impact on aquaculture businesses.

Given the large volumes of water needed, controlling the pH for aquaculture facilities remains technically and economically infeasible. Rather, aquaculture facilities are reliant on the local oceanic conditions from where their seawater is sourced.

This project intends to assess the effects of increased acidity on red abalone both within and across generations. Prior research has demonstrated that early-life exposure to OA can affect abalones’ responses to acidity exposure later in life. This research seeks to expand upon that, and determine how OA exposure affects subsequent generations, whether they may be more resistant to increased acidity or if they instead suffer from reduced fitness.

Aquaculture and restorative efforts can utilize these results to better provision their stocks against the impacts of increasing pH levels. Successful aquaculture efforts will remain an important component in a sustainable and stable abalone industry, and these results could prove useful in the aquaculture of other mollusc species.

Isabelle Neylan, Sea Grant California. Article.

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