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Mussels fighting back against ocean acidification, says study


May 17, 2016
By Joe Sabbagh

Mussel shell composition is changing in response to the environmental change.

Mussels are protecting themselves against the ravages of ocean acidification by producing stronger shells.

 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, said researchers at the University of Glasgow. However, they found that mussel shells grown under such conditions are producing more amorphous calcium carbonate, the building block of the protective shells and exoskeletons of many marine animals.

 “Mussel shells grown under ocean acidification produce more amorphous calcium carbonate as a repair mechanism, compensating for the impact of environmental changes,” said the researchers in a new paper published on February 15 in Scientific Reports.

 Despite the findings, the mussels’ adaptation may be insufficient, they noted. The impact of rising oceanic acidification on the crystalisation of mussel shells still raises concerns for the protective function of shells, in order to protect animals against predation and stormy environments.