Near-future pH conditions severely impact calcification, metabolism and the nervous system in the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus

Moya, Aurelie, Howes, Ella L., Lacoue-Labarthe, Thomas, Foret, Sylvain, Hanna, Bishoy, Medina, Mónica, Munday, Philip L., Ong, Jue-Sheng, Teyssié, Jean-Louis, Torda, Gergely, Watson, Sue-Ann, Miller, David J., Bijma, Jelle, and Gattuso, Jean-Pierre (2016) Near-future pH conditions severely impact calcification, metabolism and the nervous system in the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus. Global Change Biology, 22 (12). pp. 3888-3900.

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Shelled pteropods play key roles in the global carbon cycle and food webs of various ecosystems. Their thin external shell is sensitive to small changes in pH, and shell dissolution has already been observed in areas where aragonite saturation state is ~1. A decline in pteropod abundance has the potential to disrupt trophic networks and directly impact commercial fisheries. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how pteropods will be affected by global environmental change, particularly ocean acidification. In this study, physiological and molecular approaches were used to investigate the response of the Mediterranean pteropod, Heliconoides inflatus, to pH values projected for 2100 under a moderate emissions trajectory (RCP6.0). Pteropods were subjected to pH(T) 7.9 for 3 days, and gene expression levels, calcification and respiration rates were measured relative to pH(T) 8.1 controls. Gross calcification decreased markedly under low pH conditions, while genes potentially involved in calcification were up-regulated, reflecting the inability of pteropods to maintain calcification rates. Gene expression data imply that under low pH conditions, both metabolic processes and protein synthesis may be compromised, while genes involved in acid–base regulation were up-regulated. A large number of genes related to nervous system structure and function were also up-regulated in the low pH treatment, including a GABA(A) receptor subunit. This observation is particularly interesting because GABA(A) receptor disturbances, leading to altered behavior, have been documented in several other marine animals after exposure to elevated CO₂. The up-regulation of many genes involved in nervous system function suggests that exposure to low pH could have major effects on pteropod behavior. This study illustrates the power of combining physiological and molecular approaches. It also reveals the importance of behavioral analyses in studies aimed at understanding the impacts of low pH on marine animals.

Item ID: 45244
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2486
Keywords: calcification, GABAA receptor, gene expression, global change biology, nervous system, ocean acidification, pteropods, respiration, RNA sequencing
Funders: Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (MCIOF), European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013), United States National Science Foundation (NSF)
Projects and Grants: MCIOF Grant PIOF-GA-2008-235142, FP7 Grant 211384, FP7 Grant 265103, NSF Grant IOS 1146880, NSF Grant OCE 1442206
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2016 01:29
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310505 Gene expression (incl. microarray and other genome-wide approaches) @ 50%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3702 Climate change science > 370201 Climate change processes @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310912 Comparative physiology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 80%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 20%
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