Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Research reveals sea urchin adaptations to ocean acidification

by Rob Jordan on 14 Apr 2013
Melissa Pespeni injects sea urchin to induce spawning Dan Griffin http://woods.stanford.edu/
Stanford scientists have determined that some purple sea urchins residing along the coast of California and Oregon have the surprising ability to rapidly evolve in acidic ocean water – a capacity that may come in handy as climate change increases ocean acidity. This capacity depends on high levels of genetic variation that allow urchins’ healthy growth in water with high carbon dioxide levels.

The study, led by former Stanford postdoctoral fellow Melissa Pespeni and co-authored by Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Palumbi, reveals previously unknown adaptive variations that could help some marine species survive in future acidified seas.

'It’s like bet hedging,' said Palumbi, director of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station. 'Betting on multiple teams in the NCAA playoffs gives you a better chance of winning. A parent with genetic variation for survival in different conditions makes offspring that can thrive in different environments. In an uncertain world, it’s a way to have a stake in the Final Four.'

Increasing acidification is a worrisome question for the billion people who depend on the ocean for their sustenance and livelihoods. Which sea creatures will survive in waters that have had their chemistry altered by global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels?

The authors, including collaborators at the University of California Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab, speculate in a research paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that other marine species that have long dealt with environmental stresses may have a similar adaptive capacity.

If true, these capabilities could provide important clues about how to maintain robust marine populations amid the effects of acidification, climate change, overfishing and other human impacts.

Scientists have known for decades that high CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are increasing the levels of carbonic acid in the world's oceans, leading to increased acidity. Hundreds of studies have shown that acidification at levels expected by the year 2100 can harm ocean life.

But little is known about marine species’ capacity to adapt evolutionarily to this condition. The delicate embryos of marine species are especially susceptible. The West Coast oyster farm industry nearly collapsed in 2007 because of oyster larvae sensitivity to increased acidification of coastal waters.

The study examined how purple sea urchins – creatures with the most well-studied genome of any marine species – react to the acidification levels predicted for 2100.

The researchers raised larvae in ocean water with either low or high carbon dioxide content. They sampled the larvae at early and later stages in life then used new DNA-sequencing and analytical tools to determine what elements of the urchins’ genetic makeup changed through time in these conditions. By looking at the function of each gene that changed, researchers were able to pinpoint which types of genes were critical for survival under future conditions.

'The high CO2 larvae showed almost no negative effects, and that was a surprise,' said Pespeni. 'They didn’t suffer because among them were some individuals with the right genes to be able to grow well in those harsh conditions.'

Purple sea urchins, like other West Coast marine species, normally live in cold water that wells up along the coast, bringing seasonally higher CO2 levels. The study’s results suggest that this long-term environmental mosaic has led to the evolution of genetic variations enabling purple sea urchins to regulate their internal pH level in the face of elevated CO2.

'There are hundreds of west coast species that similarly evolved in these conditions. Maybe some of these have the genetic tools to resist acidification, too,' Palumbi said. 'We need to learn why some species are more sensitive than Stanford Woods website
Lancer Inflatables - BJGAC PindarNaiad

Related Articles

Seabin- Saving the world, one marina at a time
Now and then you hear of an idea that’s so jaw-droppingly simple and yet so effective that it makes you shake your head Every now and then you hear of an idea that’s so jaw-droppingly simple and yet so effective that it makes you shake your head and wonder, ‘why not me’? Such is the case with the Seabin project, an automated marina rubbish bin that was designed to help remove plastic and other unsightly debris from the water.
Posted on 8 Jan
Eco-warriors Sea-Bin crowd sharing critical stage with nine days to go
The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised 86% of their target with 9 days left. The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised $198,020 of $230,000.00 with nine days left on their Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, but they need more help now.
Posted on 29 Dec 2015
Don’t be a Tosser – Not your usual environmental article!!
The word ‘Tosser’ in the Oxford English dictionary means – ‘a person or thing that throws something’. The word ‘Tosser’ in the Oxford English dictionary means – ‘a person or thing that throws something’. There is no need for me to tell you the other meaning that is commonly used around the world. However in this article it will refer to both at the same time as someone who tosses trash into the ocean, truly is a tosser.
Posted on 3 Dec 2015
Pay attention, YOU can make a difference to the marine environment!!
THIS is a life exam subject and when you reach the Pearly Gates, your results today will count towards your destination OK, Sit up and pay attention, THIS is a life exam subject and when you reach the Pearly Gates, your results today will count towards your final destination
Posted on 16 Nov 2015
Flash and Crack is not a new pop band
To anyone who has been on an airliner hit by lightning, the flash and crack of the strike are vivid memories. To anyone who has been on an airliner hit by lightning, the flash and crack of the strike are vivid memories. It certainly gets your attention and when you land, all the technicians definitely run to the aircraft and give it a very close inspection. So now that we have heightened your senses, let us all remind ourselves that a lightning strike is not always fatal,
Posted on 15 Nov 2015
Scheduled server maintenance - 23 September GMT+2 11pm onwards
Scheduled server maintenance - 23rd September GMT + 2 11pm onwards Scheduled server maintenance - sites will be unavailable for some hours between 11pm and 7am GMT + 2
Posted on 23 Aug 2015
Pantaenius Insurance – How good does it get?
Insurance may not be the buzzword. There is not unobtanium for keels, spinach enhanced sails or vibranium fuel cells Insurance may not be the buzzword. There is not unobtanium for keels, spinach enhanced sails or hulls of cut diamond and vibranium fuel cells powering arc reactors to rave on about. No. It is numbers, facts, risk and documentation. Boring? No. Quite the contrary if you happen to have put your boat up on a reef or Hughie blows it off its mooring, smashes her through everything in sight...
Posted on 29 May 2015
Sail-World.com - Contributors Guidelines
Guidelines for sailors writing articles for publication on Sail-World.com Whether its information about yachts, catamarans or dinghies, or tales of your adventures on the water, there is always a story waiting to be told. Sail-World is happy to receive your articles - be it profiles of people and boats, techniques, safety or seamanship. Read on for the guidelines for submitting an article, including commercial articles - if the information is of value to our readers
Posted on 5 Jan 2015
Dutch boy on a mission to rid the world's oceans of floating plastic
Boyan Slat is a 20-year-old on a mission - to rid the planet's oceans of floating plastic. Boyan Slat is a 20-year-old on a mission - to rid the planet's oceans of floating plastic. He has dedicated his teenage years to finding a way of collecting it. But can the system really work - and is there any point when so much new plastic waste is still flowing into the sea every day?
Posted on 18 Oct 2014
Superior set for METS and enters Waterscape in DAME Awards
Superior will be attending this year’s METS trade show and entering Waterscape in the prestigious DAME Awards. Superior will be attending this year’s METS trade show in Amsterdam, 18 to 20 November, and entering the company’s new Waterscape product in the prestigious DAME Awards.
Posted on 9 Oct 2014