Ocean acidification impacts growth and shell mineralization in juvenile abalone (Haliotis tuberculata)


Ocean acidification (OA) is a major global driver that leads to substantial changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, with potentially serious consequences for calcifying organisms. Marine shelled molluscs are ecologically and economically important species, providing essential ecosystem services and food sources for other species. Due to their physiological characteristics and their use of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to build their shells, molluscs are among the most vulnerable invertebrates with regard to OA, with early developmental stages being particularly sensitive to pH changes. This study investigated the effects of CO2-induced OA on juveniles of the European abalone Haliotis tuberculata, a commercially important gastropod species. Six-month-old juvenile abalones were cultured for 3 months at four pH levels (8.1, 7.8, 7.7, 7.6) representing current and predicted near-future conditions. Survival, growth, shell microstructure, thickness, and strength were compared across the four pH treatments. After 3 months of exposure, significant reductions in juvenile shell length, weight, and strength were revealed in the pH 7.6 treatment. Scanning electron microscopy observations also revealed modified texture and porosity of the shell mineral layers as well as alterations of the periostracum at pH 7.6 which was the only treatment with an aragonite saturation state below 1. It is concluded that low pH induces both general effects on growth mechanisms and corrosion of deposited shell in H. tuberculata. This will impact both the ecological role of this species and the costs of its aquaculture.

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N. Wessel was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the MNHN (Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche, Paris, France). This work was supported in part by the ATM program “Biomineralization” of the MNHN funded by the Ministère délégué à l’Enseignement Supérieur et à la Recherche (Paris, France) and by the ICOBio project under the program “Acidification des Océans” funded by the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (FRB) and the Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire (MTES). We thank Dr. Chakib Djejat and Stéphane Formosa for their assistance in scanning electron microscopy (SEM, Plateau technique de Microscopie Electronique, MNHN, Paris and Concarneau, France). The Regional Council of Brittany, the General Council of Finistère, the urban community of Concarneau Cornouaille Agglomération and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) are acknowledged for the funding of the Sigma 300 FE-SEM of the Concarneau Marine Station. We thank Dr. Cedric Hubas for his valuable support for the statistical analyses and the Translation Bureau of the University of Western Brittany for improving the English of this manuscript. We also thank the three anonymous reviewers for their comments which have helped to improve this manuscript. Ph. Dubois is a Research Director of the National Fund for Scientific Research (Belgium).

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Auzoux-Bordenave, S., Wessel, N., Badou, A. et al. Ocean acidification impacts growth and shell mineralization in juvenile abalone (Haliotis tuberculata). Mar Biol 167, 11 (2020).

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