Ocean acidification affects the bioenergetics of marine mussels as revealed by high-coverage quantitative metabolomics

Graphical abstract.


  • The metabolic response of mussels to acidification was evaluated.
  • Acidification decreased energy storage and increased energy demands.
  • Acidification affected amino acid metabolism and biosynthesis.
  • Carry-over effects of acidification on cellular energy allocation were observed.


Ocean acidification has become a major ecological and environmental problem in the world, whereas the impact mechanism of ocean acidification in marine bivalves is not fully understood. Cellular energy allocation (CEA) approach and high-coverage metabolomic techniques were used to investigate the acidification effects on the energy metabolism of mussels. The thick shell mussels Mytilus coruscus were exposed to seawater pH 8.1 (control) and pH 7.7 (acidification) for 14 days and allowed to recover at pH 8.1 for 7 days. The levels of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins significantly decreased in the digestive glands of the mussels exposed to acidification. The 14-day acidification exposure increased the energy demands of mussels, resulting in increased electron transport system (ETS) activity and decreased cellular energy allocation (CEA). Significant carry-over effects were observed on all cellular energy parameters except the concentration of carbohydrates and cellular energy demand (Ec) after 7 days of recovery. Metabolomic analysis showed that acidification affected the phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan biosynthesis, taurine and hypotaurine metabolism, and glycine, serine and threonine metabolism. Correlation analysis showed that mussel cell energy parameters (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, CEA) were negatively/positively correlated with certain differentially abundant metabolites. Overall, the integrated biochemical and metabolomics analyses demonstrated the negative effects of acidification on energy metabolism at the cellular level and implicated the alteration of biosynthesis and metabolism of amino acids as a mechanism of metabolic perturbation caused by acidification in mussels.

Shang Y., Wang X., Shi Y., Huang W., Sokolova I., Chang X., Chen D., Wei S., Khan F. U., Hu M. & Wang Y., 2023. Ocean acidification affects the bioenergetics of marine mussels as revealed by high-coverage quantitative metabolomics. Science of the Total Environment 858 (Part 3): 160090. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.160090. Article.

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