Posts Tagged 'mollusks'

Local habitat influences on feeding and respiration of the intertidal mussels Perumytilus purpuratus exposed to increased pCO2 levels

Coastal ecosystems are exposed to changes in physical-chemical properties, such as those occurring in upwelling and freshwater-influenced areas. In these areas, inorganic carbon can influence seawater properties that may affect organisms and populations inhabiting benthic habitats such as the intertidal mussel Perumytilus purpuratus. Feeding and metabolic responses were measured in adult mussels from two geographic regions (central and southern Chile) and two local habitats (river-influenced and non-river-influenced) and three pCO2 levels (380, 750, and 1200 μatm pCO2 in seawater). The feeding rates of mussels tend to increase at high pCO2 levels in seawater; however this response was variable across regions and local habitats. In contrast, there was no difference in the respiratory rate of mussels between geographic areas, but there was a significant reduction of oxygen consumption at intermediate and high levels of pCO2. The results indicate that river-influenced organisms compensate for reductions in metabolic cost at elevated pCO2 levels by having their energy demands met, in contrast with non-river-influenced organisms. The lack of regional-scale variability in the physiological performance of mussels may indicate physiological homogeneity across populations and thus potential for local adaptation. However, the local-scale influences of river- and non-river-influenced habitats may counterbalance this regional response promoting intra-population variability and phenotypic plasticity in P. purpuratus. The plasticity may be an important mechanism that allows mussels to confront the challenges of projected ocean acidification scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Local habitat influences on feeding and respiration of the intertidal mussels Perumytilus purpuratus exposed to increased pCO2 levels’

Southern Ocean pteropods at risk from ocean warming and acidification

Early life stages of marine calcifiers are particularly vulnerable to climate change. In the Southern Ocean aragonite undersaturation events and areas of rapid warming already occur and are predicted to increase in extent. Here, we present the first study to successfully hatch the polar pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica and observe the potential impact of exposure to increased temperature and aragonite undersaturation resulting from ocean acidification (OA) on the early life stage survival and shell morphology. High larval mortality (up to 39%) was observed in individuals exposed to perturbed conditions. Warming and OA induced extensive shell malformation and dissolution, respectively, increasing shell fragility. Furthermore, shell growth decreased, with variation between treatments and exposure time. Our results demonstrate that short-term exposure through passing through hotspots of OA and warming poses a serious threat to pteropod recruitment and long-term population viability.

Continue reading ‘Southern Ocean pteropods at risk from ocean warming and acidification’

Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters

Global increases in sea temperatures and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 may affect the health of calcifying shellfish. Little is known, however, about how competitive interactions within and between species may influence how species respond to multiple stressors. We experimentally assessed separate and combined effects of temperature (12 or 16°C) and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 ppm) on the health and biological functioning of native (Ostrea edulis) and invasive (Crassostrea gigas) oysters held alone and in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. We found evidence of reduced phagocytosis under elevated CO2 and, when combined with increased temperature, a reduction in the number of circulating haemocytes. Generally, C. gigas showed lower respiration rates relative to O. edulis when the species were in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. In contrast, O. edulis showed a higher respiration rate relative to C. gigas when held in an interspecific mixture and exhibited lower clearance rates when held in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. Overall, clearance rates of C. gigas were consistently greater than those of O. edulis. Collectively, our findings indicate that a species’ ability to adapt metabolic processes to environmental conditions can be modified by biotic context and may make some species (here, C. gigas) competitively superior and less vulnerable to future climatic scenarios at local scales. If these conclusions are generic, the relative role of species interactions, and other biotic parameters, in altering the outcomes of climate change will require much greater research emphasis.

Continue reading ‘Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters’

Sensory qualities of oysters unaltered by a short exposure to combined elevated pCO2 and temperature

Reliance on the marine environment for the provision of food is ever-increasing, but future climate change threatens production. Despite this concern, the impact on seafood quality and success of the seafood industry is unknown. Using a short-term study, we test these concerns using a major aquaculture species—Crassostrea gigas—exposing them to three acidification and warming scenarios: (1) ambient pCO2 (~400 ppm) & control temperature (15°C), (2) ambient pCO2 (~400 ppm) & elevated temperature (20°C), (3) elevated pCO2 (~1,000 ppm) & elevated temperature (20°C). Oyster quality was assessed by scoring appearance, aroma, taste, and overall acceptability. A panel of five experts was asked to score nine oysters—three from each treatment—according to agreed criteria. Results indicate that these levels of acidification and warming did not significantly alter the sensory properties of C. gigas, and notably the overall acceptability remained unchanged. Non-statistically supported trends suggest that several sensory attributes—opacity, mouthfeel, aspect of meat, shininess, meat resistance, meat texture, and creaminess—may improve under acidification and warming scenarios. These findings can be considered positive for the future of the aquaculture and food sectors. Crassostrea gigas therefore is expected to remain a key species for food security that is resilient to climate change, whilst retaining its valuable attributes.

Continue reading ‘Sensory qualities of oysters unaltered by a short exposure to combined elevated pCO2 and temperature’

Oyster reproduction is compromised by acidification experienced seasonally in coastal regions

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been rising during the past century, leading to ocean acidification (OA). Coastal and estuarine habitats experience annual pH variability that vastly exceeds the magnitude of long-term projections in open ocean regions. Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reproduction season coincides with periods of low pH occurrence in estuaries, thus we investigated effects of moderate (pH 7.5, pCO2 2260 µatm) and severe OA (pH 7.1, pCO2 5584 µatm; and 6.7, pCO2 18480 µatm) on oyster gametogenesis, fertilization, and early larval development successes. Exposure at severe OA during gametogenesis caused disruption in oyster reproduction. Oogenesis appeared to be more sensitive compared to spermatogenesis. However, Eastern oyster reproduction was resilient to moderate OA projected for the near-future. In the context of projected climate change exacerbating seasonal acidification, OA of coastal habitats could represent a significant bottleneck for oyster reproduction which may have profound negative implications for coastal ecosystems reliant on this keystone species.

Continue reading ‘Oyster reproduction is compromised by acidification experienced seasonally in coastal regions’

Transcriptomic response of the Antarctic pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica to ocean acidification

Background
Ocean acidification (OA), a change in ocean chemistry due to the absorption of atmospheric CO2 into surface oceans, challenges biogenic calcification in many marine organisms. Ocean acidification is expected to rapidly progress in polar seas, with regions of the Southern Ocean expected to experience severe OA within decades. Biologically, the consequences of OA challenge calcification processes and impose an energetic cost.

Results
In order to better characterize the response of a polar calcifier to conditions of OA, we assessed differential gene expression in the Antarctic pteropod, Limacina helicina antarctica. Experimental levels of pCO2 were chosen to create both contemporary pH conditions, and to mimic future pH expected in OA scenarios. Significant changes in the transcriptome were observed when juvenile L. h. antarctica were acclimated for 21 days to low-pH (7.71), mid-pH (7.9) or high-pH (8.13) conditions. Differential gene expression analysis of individuals maintained in the low-pH treatment identified down-regulation of genes involved in cytoskeletal structure, lipid transport, and metabolism. High pH exposure led to increased expression and enrichment for genes involved in shell formation, calcium ion binding, and DNA binding. Significant differential gene expression was observed in four major cellular and physiological processes: shell formation, the cellular stress response, metabolism, and neural function. Across these functional groups, exposure to conditions that mimic ocean acidification led to rapid suppression of gene expression.

Conclusions
Results of this study demonstrated that the transcriptome of the juvenile pteropod, L. h. antarctica, was dynamic and changed in response to different levels of pCO2. In a global change context, exposure of L. h. antarctica to the low pH, high pCO2 OA conditions resulted in a suppression of transcripts for genes involved in key physiological processes: calcification, metabolism, and the cellular stress response. The transcriptomic response at both acute and longer-term acclimation time frames indicated that contemporary L. h. antarctica may not have the physiological plasticity necessary for adaptation to OA conditions expected in future decades. Lastly, the differential gene expression results further support the role of shelled pteropods such as L. h. antarctica as sentinel organisms for the impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Transcriptomic response of the Antarctic pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica to ocean acidification’

Ocean life breaking rules by building shells in acidic extremes

Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel combustion is acidifying our oceans [1,2] . This acidification is expected to have negative effects on calcifying animals because it affects their ability to build shells [3,4]. However, the effects of ocean acidification in natural environments, subject to ecological and evolutionary processes (such as predation, competition, and adaptation), is uncertain [5,6]. These processes may buffer, or even reverse, the direct, short-term effects principally measured in laboratory experiments (for example, [6] ). Here we describe the discovery of marine snails living at a shallow-water CO2 vent in the southwest Pacific, an environment 30 times more acidic than normal seawater (Figure 1). By measuring the chemical fingerprints locked within the shell material, we show that these snails have a restricted range of movement, which suggests that they live under these conditions for their entire lives. The existence of these snails demonstrates that calcifying animals can build their shells under the acidic and corrosive conditions caused by extreme CO2 enrichment. This unforeseen capacity, whether driven by ecological or adaptive processes, is key to understanding whether calcifying life may survive a high-CO2 future.

Continue reading ‘Ocean life breaking rules by building shells in acidic extremes’


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