Posts Tagged 'reproduction'

Effects of low and high pH on sea urchin settlement, implications for the use of alkali to counter the impacts of acidification


• Seaweeds and diatoms on settlement plates created low pH and high pH conditions as they respired and photosynthesised.

• Low pH had adverse effects on growth and morphology of sea urchin post-larvae.

• High pH generally had little effect on growth and development, but reduced settlement rates.

• Controlling pH in invertebrate culture systems might improve settlement rates and post-settlement growth.


Respiration, photosynthesis, and calcification of cultured organisms and biological substrata can substantially alter the pH and other carbonate parameters of water in aquaculture systems. One such example is the diel cycle of photosynthesis and respiration by diatoms and seaweeds growing on ‘settlement plates’ used to induce metamorphosis of invertebrate larvae and as food for post-larvae. We documented low pH and high pH conditions in nursery raceways and simulated settlement tanks that were as much as 0.26 pH units lower and 0.52 pH units higher than the pH of the source seawater supplied to the systems. To better understand whether the low pH and high pH conditions commonly found in aquaculture culture systems affected the success of the settlement stage of the sea urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii, we induced larvae to settle at pH 7.6, 7.8 (created by injecting CO2), 8.1 (ambient), 8.2, and 8.3 (created by raising total alkalinity), and followed post-settlement growth, development, and survival for 16 d. At metamorphosis, low pH significantly increased the occurrence of abnormalities and reduced the number and length of the sea urchins’ spines and pedicellaria, but did not affect settlement rate or size compared to ambient pH. In contrast, high pH generally had little effect on morphological traits, but settlement was significantly reduced by 14–26% compared to ambient and low pH treatments. After 16 d, juveniles in the low pH treatments were as much as 7% smaller, had 2–4 fewer and 9–13% shorter spines, and had less-developed digestive systems compared to juveniles in ambient or high pH treatments, and there was a non-significant trend towards lower survival in low pH treatments. Our results highlight that the low pH and high pH conditions in invertebrate settlement and nursery culture systems have the potential to hamper production through reduced settlement or growth rates. We need to understand the impacts of fluctuating pH in culture systems, especially day-night oscillations. Treating seawater with alkali chemicals to stabilise pH and counter acidification should be done with caution. Due to the potential for deleterious effects on settlement, dosage regimens will need to be optimised.

Continue reading ‘Effects of low and high pH on sea urchin settlement, implications for the use of alkali to counter the impacts of acidification’

CO2-induced low pH in an eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) hatchery positively affects reproductive development and larval survival but negatively affects larval shape and size, with no intergenerational linkages

In North America, studies regarding effects of CO2-induced low pH in bivalve aquaculture are largely restricted to the US Pacific coast. Studies on species from the northwest Atlantic are lacking. Furthermore, information on the roles of intergenerational exposure and biological sex in bivalve responses to low pH, particularly in an aquaculture-specific context, is scant. We tested if short-term (1 month) exposure to CO2-induced reductions in pHNBS affected the reproductive development of male and female eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) during hatchery-specific reproductive conditioning and whether maternal and/or paternal exposure influenced larval responses. Reduced pH (7.5–7.7) increased the rate of reproductive development in both males and females. There was no indication of intergenerational effects; adult pH conditions did not affect early larval development. In contrast, low pH conditions experienced by gametes during spawning, fertilization, and embryo incubation (48 h) resulted in higher larval survival (+6–8% from control), reduced shell height (−2 to 3 µm), and increased deformities (abnormal shell shape; +3–5%). We suggest that local adaptation to acidic land runoff may account for the positive effects of low pH observed in this study. Bioeconomic assessments are now needed to understand the implications of reduced pH on aquaculture operations in these regions of Atlantic Canada.

Continue reading ‘CO2-induced low pH in an eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) hatchery positively affects reproductive development and larval survival but negatively affects larval shape and size, with no intergenerational linkages’

Plasticity of adult coralline algae to prolonged increased temperature and pCO2 exposure but reduced survival in their first generation

Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are vital to coral reefs worldwide, providing structural integrity and inducing the settlement of important invertebrate larvae. CCA are known to be impacted by changes in their environment, both during early development and adulthood. However, long-term studies on either life history stage are lacking in the literature, therefore not allowing time to explore the acclimatory or potential adaptive responses of CCA to future global change scenarios. Here, we exposed a widely distributed, slow growing, species of CCA, Sporolithon cf. durum, to elevated temperature and pCO2 for five months and their first set of offspring (F1) for eleven weeks. Survival, reproductive output, and metabolic rate were measured in adult S. cf. durum, and survival and growth were measured in the F1 generation. Adult S. cf. durum experienced 0% mortality across treatments and reduced their O2 production after five months exposure to global stressors, indicating a possible expression of plasticity. In contrast, the combined stressors of elevated temperature and pCO2 resulted in 50% higher mortality and 61% lower growth on germlings. On the other hand, under the independent elevated pCO2 treatment, germling growth was higher than all other treatments. These results show the robustness and plasticity of S. cf. durum adults, indicating the potential for them to acclimate to increased temperature and pCO2. However, the germlings of this species are highly sensitive to global stressors and this could negatively impact this species in future oceans, and ultimately the structure and stability of coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Plasticity of adult coralline algae to prolonged increased temperature and pCO2 exposure but reduced survival in their first generation’

Adult exposure to acidified seawater influences sperm physiology in Mytilus galloprovincialis: Laboratory and in situ transplant experiments


•SWAc impacts on sperm physiology in the M. galloprovincialis after paternal exposure.

•Microcosm and in situ transplant experiment were set up and compared.

•Several sperm quality parameters were analyzed at different exposure times.

•Paternal SWAc exposure affects sperm motility, morphology, mitochondria and pHi.

•Microcosm experiments allowed to explore mechanism underlying responses to SWAc.


The ongoing increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is inducing a progressive lowering of marine water pH that is predicted to decrease to 7.8 by the end of this century. In marine environment, physical perturbation may affect reproduction, which is crucial for species’ survival and strictly depends on gamete quality. The effects of seawater acidification (SWAc) on gamete quality of broadcast spawning marine invertebrates result largely from experiments of gamete exposure while the SWAc impact in response to adult exposure is poorly investigated. Performing microcosm and in field experiments at a naturally acidified site, we investigated the effects of adult SWAc exposure on sperm quality parameters underlying fertilization in Mytilus galloprovincialis. These animals were exposed to pH 7.8 over 21 days and collected at different times to analyze sperm parameters as concentration, motility, viability, morphology, oxidative status, intra- and extra-cellular pH and mitochondrial membrane potential. Results obtained in the two experimental approaches were slightly different. Under field conditions, we found an increase in total sperm motility and mitochondrial membrane potential on days 7 and 14 from the start of SWAc exposure whereas, in microcosm, SWAc group showed an increase of total motility on day 14. In addition, sperm morphology and intracellular pH were affected in both experimental approaches; whereas oxidative stress was detected only in spermatozoa collected from mussels under natural SWAc. The overall analysis suggests that, in mussels, SWAc toxic mechanism in spermatozoa does not involve oxidative stress. This study represents the first report on mussel sperm quality impairment after adult SWAc exposure, which may affect fertilization success with negative ecological and economic consequences; it also indicates that, although naturally acidified areas represent ideal natural laboratories for investigating the impact of ocean acidification, microcosm experiments are necessary for examining action mechanisms.

Continue reading ‘Adult exposure to acidified seawater influences sperm physiology in Mytilus galloprovincialis: Laboratory and in situ transplant experiments’

Antagonistic interactions and clutch-dependent sensitivity induce variable responses to ocean acidification and warming in squid (Doryteuthis pealeii) embryos and paralarvae

Ocean acidification (OA) and warming seas are significant concerns for coastal systems and species. The Atlantic longfin squid, Doryteuthis pealeii, a core component of the Northwest Atlantic trophic web, has demonstrated impacts, such as reduced growth and delayed development, under high chronic exposure to acidification (2200 ppm), but the combined effects of OA and warming have not been explored in this species. In this study, D. pealeii egg capsules were reared under a combination of several acidification levels (400, 2200, and 3500 ppm) and temperatures (20 and 27°C). Hatchlings were measured for a range of metrics [dorsal mantle length (DML), yolk sac volume (YV), malformation, and hatching success] in three trials over the 2016 breeding season (May – October). Although notable resistance to stressors was seen, highlighting variability within and between clutches, reduced DML and malformation of the embryos occurred at the highest OA exposure. Surprisingly, increased temperatures did not appear to exacerbate OA impacts, although responses were variable. Time to hatching, which increased with acidification, decreased much more drastically under warming and, further, decreased or removed delays caused by acidification. Hatching success, while variable by clutch, showed consistent patterns of greater late stage loss of embryos under acidification and greater early stage loss under warming, highlighting the potential difference in timing between these stressors for this system, i.e., that acidification stress builds up and causes impacts over time within the egg capsule as the embryos grow and respire. High OA-exposed hatchlings from the warmer conditions often showed reduced impacts compared to those reared in ambient temperatures. This may be due to the increased developmental rate and subsequently reduced OA exposure time of embryos in the higher temperature treatment. These results indicate a substantive potential plasticity to multiple stressors during the embryonic development of this species of squid, but do not predict how this species would fare under these future ocean scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Antagonistic interactions and clutch-dependent sensitivity induce variable responses to ocean acidification and warming in squid (Doryteuthis pealeii) embryos and paralarvae’

Unique genomic and phenotypic responses to extreme and variable pH conditions in purple urchin larvae

Environmental variation experienced by a species across space and time can promote the maintenance of genetic diversity that may be adaptive in future global change conditions. Selection experiments have shown that purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, populations have adaptive genetic variation for surviving pH conditions at the “edge” (pH 7.5) of conditions experienced in nature. However, little is known about whether populations have genetic variation for surviving low-pH events beyond those currently experienced in nature or how variation in pH conditions affects organismal and genetic responses. Here, we quantified survival, growth, and allele frequency shifts in experimentally selected developing purple sea urchin larvae in static and variable conditions at three pH levels: pH 8.1 (control), pH 7.5 (edge-of-range), and pH 7.0 (extreme). Variable treatments recovered body size relative to static treatments, but resulted in higher mortality, suggesting a potential tradeoff between survival and growth under pH stress. However, within each pH level, allele frequency changes were overlapping between static and variable conditions, suggesting a shared genetic basis underlying survival to mean pH regardless of variability. In contrast, genetic responses to pH 7.5 (edge) versus pH 7.0 (extreme) conditions were distinct, indicating a unique genetic basis of survival. In addition, loci under selection were more likely to be in exonic regions than regulatory, indicating that selection targeted protein-coding variation. Loci under selection in variable pH 7.5 conditions, more similar to conditions periodically experienced in nature, performed functions related to lipid biosynthesis and metabolism, while loci under selection in static pH 7.0 conditions performed functions related to transmembrane and mitochondrial processes. While these results are promising in that purple sea urchin populations possess genetic variation for surviving extreme pH conditions not currently experienced in nature, they caution that increased acidification does not result in a linear response but elicits unique physiological stresses and survival mechanisms.

Continue reading ‘Unique genomic and phenotypic responses to extreme and variable pH conditions in purple urchin larvae’

Ocean acidification induces carry-over effects on the larval settlement of the New Zealand abalone, Haliotis iris

Larval settlement is a key process in the lifecycle of benthic marine organisms; however, little is known on how it could change in reduced seawater pH and carbonate saturation states under future ocean acidification (OA). This is important, as settlement ensures species occur in optimal environments and, for commercially important species such as abalone, reduced settlement could decrease future population success. We investigated how OA could affect settlement success in the New Zealand abalone Haliotis iris by examining: (1) direct effects of seawater at ambient (pHT 8.05) and reduced pHT (7.65) at the time of settlement, (2) indirect effects of settlement substrates (crustose coralline algae, CCA) preconditioned at ambient and reduced pHT for 171 days, and (3) carry-over effects, by examining settlement in larvae reared to competency at ambient and reduced pHT (7.80). We found no effects of seawater pH or CCA incubation on larval settlement success. OA-induced carry-over effects were evident, with lower settlement in larvae reared at reduced pH. Understanding the mechanisms behind these responses is key to fully comprehend the extent to which OA will affect marine organisms and the industries that rely on them.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification induces carry-over effects on the larval settlement of the New Zealand abalone, Haliotis iris’

Abalone populations are most sensitive to environmental stress effects on adult individuals

Marine organisms are exposed to stressors associated with climate change throughout their life cycle, but a majority of studies focus on responses in single life stages, typically early ones. Here, we examined how negative impacts from stressors associated with climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution can act across multiple life stages to influence long-term population dynamics and decrease resilience to mass mortality events. We used a continuous-size-structured density-dependent model for abalone (Haliotis spp.), calcifying mollusks that support valuable fisheries, to explore the sensitivity of stock abundance and annual catch to potential changes in growth, survival, and fecundity across the organism’s lifespan. Our model predicts that decreased recruitment from lowered fertilization success or larval survival has small negative impacts on the population, and that stock size and fishery performance are much more sensitive to changes in parameters that affect the size or survival of adults. Sensitivity to impacts on subadults and juveniles is also important for the population, though less so than for adults. Importantly, likelihood of recovery following mortality events showed more pronounced sensitivity to most possible parameter impacts, greater than the effects on equilibrium density or catch. Our results suggest that future experiments on environmental stressors should focus on multiple life stages to capture effects on population structure and dynamics, particularly for species with size-dependent fecundity.

Continue reading ‘Abalone populations are most sensitive to environmental stress effects on adult individuals’

How does the sexual reproduction of marine life respond to ocean acidification?

Recent research indicates that synchronicity of sexual reproduction in coral spawning events is breaking down, leading to aging populations and decreased recruitment success. In this perspective, we develop a hypothesis that this phenomenon could be caused by ongoing ocean acidification (OA). We hypothesize, that the underlying physiological machinery could be the carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM). The endosymbiotic zooxanthellae of corals could use this mechanism to sense calm water motion states in a comparable way to that known from macroalgae. In macroalgae, it is well-established that dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) acts as the trigger for signaling low water motion. Hence, evolutionarily developed signals of low water motion, suited for gamete-release, may be misleading in the future, potentially favoring opportunistic species in a broad range of marine organisms.

Continue reading ‘How does the sexual reproduction of marine life respond to ocean acidification?’

The effect of environmental stressors on the development and behaviour of larval Oryzias latipes

Elevated water temperature and dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) are two environmental stressors that freshwater organisms face in the Anthropocene. Larval fishes are particularly susceptible to elevation in water parameters, as they are often confined to rearing habitats where temperature and CO2 are nearing species-specific maxima. In this study, 240 freshwater Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) eggs were exposed to either control conditions (27˚C, ~ 500 µatm pCO2), elevated water temperature (36˚C), elevated CO2 (~1500 µatm pCO2) or both elevated temperature and CO2 (36˚C, ~1500 µatm pCO2). Exposures were applied either during the early, middle or late developmental stages and the morphological and behavioural data was collected ten days post-hatch. I predicted that elevated temperature and CO2 would decrease hatching success, and produce abnormalities in the swim bladder, spine or heart. In addition, I predicted that fish exposed to the stressors would show a change in swimming behaviour. Of the behavioural parameters observed, a significant difference was found in the distance travelled among the larval fish exposed to the treatments. There was no significant change between treatments or time intervals for hatching success, length or morphology. As rising CO2 and warming are likely to have a consequential impact on freshwater species, further research dedicated to understanding the ramification of climate-induced stressors is imperative.

Continue reading ‘The effect of environmental stressors on the development and behaviour of larval Oryzias latipes’

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Powered by FeedBurner

Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 1,356,543 hits


Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book