Received: 19 May 2017 Accepted: 24 August 2017 Published: xx xx xxxx
Transgenerational exposure of North Atlantic bivalves to ocean acidification renders offspring more vulnerable to low pH and additional stressors Andrew W. Griffith & Christopher J. Gobler While early life-stage marine bivalves are vulnerable to ocean acidification, effects over successive generations are poorly characterized. The objective of this work was to assess the transgenerational effects of ocean acidification on two species of North Atlantic bivalve shellfish, Mercenaria mercenaria and Argopecten irradians. Adults of both species were subjected to high and low pCO2 conditions during gametogenesis. Resultant larvae were exposed to low and ambient pH conditions in addition to multiple, additional stressors including thermal stress, food-limitation, and exposure to a harmful alga. There were no indications of transgenerational acclimation to ocean acidification during experiments. Offspring of elevated pCO2-treatment adults were significantly more vulnerable to acidification as well as the additional stressors. Our results suggest that clams and scallops are unlikely to acclimate to ocean acidification over short time scales and that as coastal oceans continue to acidify, negative effects on these populations may become compounded and more severe. Changes in climate are occurring at rates that are unprecedented within the past ~300 My of Earth’s geological record1–3. The pH within the ocean surface has decreased ~0.1 pH units since the industrial revolution and is predicted to decrease an additional 0.2–0.3 units by the end of the century if carbon emission continue unabated4. Similarly, during the past century, mean surface ocean temperatures have risen ~1 °C and are projected to increase an additional 2–4 °C by 21005, 6. Identifying how organisms respond to rapid climate perturbations over successive generations is required to understand the fate of marine organisms in climate-altered environments7, 8. Such investigations may reveal mechanisms by which organisms could employ to acclimate and adapt to climate change stressors7, 9, 10. While the body of literature regarding the effects of acidification on calcifying organisms is now extensive6, 11, the effects over successive generations remain unclear8, 10. Transgenerational plasticity (e.g. transgenerational acclimation) refers to non-genetic inheritances passed from adults to offspring as a result of exposure to a particular perturbation, often during gametogenesis10, 12, and can influence how offspring respond to similar perturbations9, 13. Mechanisms of transgenerational plasticity include the provisioning of maternal nutrients14, 15 and/or epigenetic controls on gene expression16–18. As a result of transgenerational plasticity, offspring may exhibit decreased sensitivity to stressors, especially during early-life stages9. Such plastic responses may sustain populations in the presence of persistent stress until beneficial mutations and/or environmental pressures select for individuals that are better adapted to such environments19. However, parental exposure to environmental stress does not always confer resistance in subsequent generations as carryover effects can render offspring more sensitive to stressors10, 20. In addition, if environmental conditions improve (i.e. seasonal changes in temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH etc.) during early life-stages, next-generation phenotypes may be unsuitably adapted to stress-free environments13, 21. While transgenerational plasticity has been observed in several marine invertebrates8, this phenomenon is likely to be highly species-specific and will depend largely upon the magnitude and duration of adverse conditions.
School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Southampton, NY, 11968, USA. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to C.J.G. (email: [email protected]
) Scientific REPOrTS | 7: 11394 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-11442-3
Figure 1. Final survival (a), development (b), and size (c) of larval hard clams after 19-days development in acidification trials (n = 4, error bars denote ± S.D.; letters denote significant groupings; p