• Seawater acidification’s effects on Strongylocentrotus intermedius larvae were investigated.
• A comparative metabolomics analysis was performed.
• Significantly differentially expressed metabolites were identified and annotated.
• Metabolic pathways related to mortality induced by seawater acidification were observed.
Mortality and metabolic responses of four-armed larvae of Strongylocentrotus intermedius under CO2-induced seawater acidification were investigated. Gametes of S. intermedius were fertilized and developed to the four-armed larval stage in either current natural seawater pH levels (as Control; pH = 7.99 ± 0.01) or laboratory-controlled acidified conditions (OA1: ΔpH = −0.3 units; OA2: ΔpH = −0.4 units; OA3: ΔpH = −0.5 units) according to the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The degrees of spicule exposure and asymmetry and mortality of four-armed larvae of S. intermedius were observed; each had a significant linearly increasing trend as the seawater pH level decreased. Comparative metabolome analysis identified a total of 87 significantly differentially expressed metabolites (SDMs, UP: 57, DOWN: 30) in OA-treated groups compared with the control group. Twenty-three SDMs, including carnitine, lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) 18:3, lysophosphatidyl ethanolamine (LPE) 16:1, glutathione (GSH) and L-ascorbate, exhibited a linear increasing trend with decreasing seawater pH. Nine SDMs exhibited a linear decreasing trend as the seawater pH declined, including hypoxanthine, guanine and thymidine. Among all SDMs, we further mined 48 potential metabolite biomarkers responding to seawater acidification in four-armed larvae of S. intermedius. These potential metabolite biomarkers were mainly enriched in five pathways: glycerophospholipid metabolism, glutathione metabolism, purine metabolism, pyrimidine metabolism and the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle). Our results will enrich our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms employed by sea urchins in response to CO2-induced seawater acidification.
Li Y., Yin W., Zhan Y., Jia Y., Cui D., Zhang W. & Chang Y., in press. Comparative metabolome analysis provides new insights into increased larval mortality under seawater acidification in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus intermedius. Science of The Total Environment. Article (subscription required).