Transgenerational responses to seawater pH in the edible oyster, with implications for the mariculture of the species under future ocean acidification

Highlights

• Larval offspring of C. hongkongensis were resilient to OA exposure

• Phenotypic traits in out-planted juveniles improved with parental exposure

• Positive carry-over effect from exposed parents persisted and manifested in the estuary

• Linking multiple life stages is vital to assess OA-induced carry-over capacity

• OA exposure at early life stages revealed potential mariculture application and species fitness

Abstract

The majority of common edible oysters are projected to grow more slowly and have smaller impaired shells because of anthropogenic CO2-induced reductions in seawater carbonate ion concentration and pH, a process called ocean acidification (OA). Recent evidence has shown that OA has carryover effects, for example, larvae exposed to OA will also exhibit either positive or negative effects after metamorphosis. This study examined the hidden carryover effects of OA exposure during parental and larval stages on post-metamorphic traits of the commercially important oyster species Crassostrea hongkongensis. Adults of C. hongkongensis were exposed to control pH (pHNBS 8.0) and OA-induced low pH (pHNBS 7.4) conditions. Their larval offspring were then exposed to the same aquarium conditions before being out-planted as post-metamorphic juveniles at a mariculture site for 10 months. Initially, larval offspring were resilient to low pH with or without parental exposure. The larvae exposed to low pH had significantly faster development and higher percentage of settlement success compared to control groups. The out-planted juveniles with parental exposure had improved survival and growth compared to juveniles without parental exposure, regardless of the larval exposure history. This implies that transgenerational effects due to parental exposure not only persists but also have a greater influence than the within-generational effects of larval exposure. Our results shed light on the importance of linking the various life history stages when assessing the OA-induced carryover capacity of C. hongkongensis in the natural environment. Understanding these linked relationships helps us better predict the species rapid adaptation responses in the face of changing coastal conditions due to OA.

Lim Y.-K., Dang X. & Thiyagarajan V., in press. Transgenerational responses to seawater pH in the edible oyster, with implications for the mariculture of the species under future ocean acidification. Science of The Total Environment. Article (subscription required).

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