Bibby R, Cleall-Harding P, Rundle S, Widdicombe S, Spicer J.. Ocean acidification disrupts induced defences in the intertidal gastropod Littorina littorea. Biol Lett 3: 699-701

Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK.
Biology letters (Impact Factor: 3.25). 01/2008; 3(6):699-701. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0457
Source: PubMed


Carbon dioxide-induced ocean acidification is predicted to have major implications for marine life, but the research focus to date has been on direct effects. We demonstrate that acidified seawater can have indirect biological effects by disrupting the capability of organisms to express induced defences, hence, increasing their vulnerability to predation. The intertidal gastropod Littorina littorea produced thicker shells in the presence of predation (crab) cues but this response was disrupted at low seawater pH. This response was accompanied by a marked depression in metabolic rate (hypometabolism) under the joint stress of high predation risk and reduced pH. However, snails in this treatment apparently compensated for a lack of morphological defence, by increasing their avoidance behaviour, which, in turn, could affect their interactions with other organisms. Together, these findings suggest that biological effects from ocean acidification may be complex and extend beyond simple direct effects.

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    • " crus - taceans , echinoderms , coccolithophores , foraminifera as well as coralline and calcareous algae . Maintenance and produc - tion of shells and skeletons may cost more energy in an envi - ronment with reduced pH , and altered organism physiology may increase the vulnerability of certain species and com - promise their ecosystem functions ( Bibby et al . , 2007 ; Mc - Clintock et al . , 2009 ; Tunnicliffe et al . , 2009 ) . Calcification rates are likely to decline with a reduced saturation value for aragonite and calcite , the two most common forms of CaCO 3 in seawater ( Feely et al . , 2004 ; Guinotte and Fabry , 2008 ) , caused by a decrease in CO 2− 3 concentration when CO 2− 3 , ex - ces"

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    • "For instance, acidification could cause structural and compositional changes in shells of molluscs making them more vulnerable to predators (Tunnicliffe et al., 2009). Acidified seawater may also disrupt the capability of certain gastropods to express induced defences, increasing their vulnerability to predation (Bibby et al., 2007). If invasive species tend to be more tolerant to climatic change, then the per capita effects of predators on their native counterparts might increase as a consequence of stress experienced by native prey species (Sanford et al., 2014). "
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    • "Michaelidis et al., 2005; Thomsen and Melzner, 2010), growth (Berge et al., 2006; Thomsen et al., 2010) and behaviour (e.g. Bibby et al., 2007; Nilsson et al., 2012) in a wide range of marine organisms, the investigation of host defence and its interaction with climate change stressors is still in its infancy. The immune response is vital to all animals, controlling or fighting any pathogenic challenge (Ellis et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Ocean acidification (OA) and warming pose a considerable threat to marine ecosystems. Previous studies show that these environmental co-stressors significantly impact upon a number of key physiological functions, including calcification, metabolism and growth, in many marine organisms. Yet despite the importance of the immune system, to date only a handful of studies have investigated the impact of reduced seawater pH on an organism's immune response. Furthermore, whilst temperature has received far greater attention with respect to host defence, there is a dearth of information concerning the possible synergism of these two stressors on immune defence. Here we show that a 90 day exposure to reduced seawater pH led to a reduction in the antibacterial activity of cell-free haemolymph in the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, whilst temperature led to an increase in this immune parameter. However in contrast to previous research, following this initial 90 day exposure, mussels in the current study were then exposed to the pathogenic bacterium, Vibrio tubiashii. Crucially, whilst reduced seawater pH initially appeared to impair immunological functioning, as has been interpreted previously, mussels demonstrated the ability to restore haemolymph bactericidal activity when required. This indicated that the initial reduction in antibacterial activity was in fact a reversible physiological trade-off, rather than an irreversible impairment of immune function. By demonstrating this plasticity, the current study illustrates the need to measure organism responses within a realistic natural context (i.e. measuring the immune response of an organism in the presence of a pathogen). Failure to do so may result in a misleading interpretation of the ecological relevance of experimental data, and thus the sensitivity of different species in a rapidly changing environment.
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