Mussels Fight Back Against Ocean Acidification, Grow Thicker Shells

Source: Phys.org/University of Glasgow - February 16, 2016 in Science/Tech

Mussels Fight Back Against Ocean Acidification, Grow Thicker Shells
Photo: kat4man/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The gradual rise in oceanic acidity is weakening the shells of shellfish, corals and sea urchins, making them vulnerable to predation and damage from oceanic movements.

Many marine animals produce protective shells and exoskeletons from calcium carbonate from seawater, but higher CO2 concentrations absorbed into seawater from the environment is lowering the oceanic PH.

This makes conditions more acidic and is affecting the strength of shells making the animals weaker against predators such as crabs and other marine life. But new research at the University of Glasgow shows the humble mussel is fighting back by adapting and evolving to the sea changes.

In a new paper, published February 15, 2016 in Scientific Reports, researchers from the University of Glasgow found mussel shells grown under ocean acidification produce more amorphous calcium carbonate as a repair mechanism, compensating for the impact of environmental changes.

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