Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean Acidification: Understanding How Mussels Have Adapted To Extremely Acidic Waters Near Underwater Volcanoes

Date:
May 11, 2009
Source:
Dalhousie University
Summary:
A student is bringing understanding to the troubling problem of ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Researchers have examined how mussels have adapted to extremely acidic waters near underwater volcanoes.

Carbon dioxide bubbles out from a underwater volcano.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Kim Davies

A student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia is bringing understanding to the troubling problem of ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

As an undergraduate, Kim Davies worked with Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe, biology professor at the University Victoria, examining how mussels have adapted to extremely acidic waters near underwater volcanoes. The paper she co-authored will be published in the May issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted to the atmosphere by human activities is being absorbed by the oceans, making them more acidic. Evidence indicates that emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities over the past two centuries have already led to a reduction in the average pH of surface seawater. Because acidification affects the process of calcification, the impact is severe on marine animals like corals, plankton and mollusks which have shells or plates.

So what happens to these animals over time? That’s what the researchers wanted to find out by examining vent mussels (Bathymodiolus brevior) living on the side of submarine volcanoes. The mussels, which have a calcium carbonate skeleton, are under constant stress, bathed by carbon dioxide bubbling out of the ground and from hydro-thermal vents deep beneath the surface.

And yet some of the mussels, gathered by remotely operated vehicles along the Mariano volcanic arc near Japan, were determined to be more than 40 years old and had physiologically adapted to living in their extreme environment.

The researchers discovered the mussels grew much slower than mussels in other areas and their shells were very thin. As well, the mussels’ shells were completely covered with protective protein coverings; any breach of that outer layer would quickly destroy the mussel by dissolving the underlying calcium carbonate.

“Their shells—you could see right through them,” says Ms. Davies, who did the lab analysis of samples gathered some 1,500 metres below the surface. “And yet, this species of mussels was able to adapt and build up a tolerance living close to these hydro-thermal vents as long as their protective covering was intact.”

She surmised mussels in other areas would be more vulnerable to ocean acidification because of crabs that scurry over them and wear away at their protective covering. Those predators were absent in the mussel beds near the hydro-thermal vents.

“It’s such a euphoric feeling to see that something I did as an undergrad is regarded as important science,” says Ms. Davies, a PhD student at Dalhousie whose research is now focused on the feeding ecology of the North Atlantic right whale. “Wow, it’s so great just to see your name in a high-level journal.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dalhousie University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Verena Tunnicliffe, Kimberley T. A. Davies, David A. Butterfield, Robert W. Embley, Jonathan M. Rose & William W. Chadwick Jr. Survival of mussels in extremely acidic waters on a submarine volcano. Nature Geoscience, 2009; 2 (5): 344 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo500

Cite This Page:

Dalhousie University. "Ocean Acidification: Understanding How Mussels Have Adapted To Extremely Acidic Waters Near Underwater Volcanoes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501203430.htm>.
Dalhousie University. (2009, May 11). Ocean Acidification: Understanding How Mussels Have Adapted To Extremely Acidic Waters Near Underwater Volcanoes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501203430.htm
Dalhousie University. "Ocean Acidification: Understanding How Mussels Have Adapted To Extremely Acidic Waters Near Underwater Volcanoes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501203430.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins