L. Ramajo, N. Marbà, L. Prado, S. Peron, M.A. Lardies, A. Rodriguez-Navarro, C.A. Vargas, N.A. Lagos, C.M. Duarte
Change Biol., Volume 22, Issue 6, pp. 2025-2037, (2016)
Future ocean acidification (OA) will affect physiological traits of marine species, with calcifying species being particularly vulnerable. As OA entails high energy demands, particularly during the rapid juvenile growth phase, food supply may play a key role in the response of marine organisms to OA. We experimentally evaluated the role of food supply in modulating physiological responses and biomineralization processes in juveniles of the Chilean scallop, Argopecten purpuratus, that were exposed to control (pH ~ 8.0) and low pH (pH ~ 7.6) conditions using three food supply treatments (high, intermediate, and low). We found that pH and food levels had additive effects on the physiological response of the juvenile scallops. Metabolic rates, shell growth, net calcification, and ingestion rates increased significantly at low pH conditions, independent of food. These physiological responses increased significantly in organisms exposed to intermediate and high levels of food supply. Hence, food supply seems to play a major role modulating organismal response by providing the energetic means to bolster the physiological response of OA stress. On the contrary, the relative expression of chitin synthase, a functional molecule for biomineralization, increased significantly in scallops exposed to low food supply and low pH, which resulted in a thicker periostracum enriched with chitin polysaccharides. Under reduced food and low pH conditions, the adaptive organismal response was to trade-off growth for the expression of biomineralization molecules and altering of the organic composition of shell periostracum, suggesting that the future performance of these calcifiers will depend on the trajectories of both OA and food supply. Thus, incorporating a suite of traits and multiple stressors in future studies of the adaptive organismal response may provide key insights on OA impacts on marine calcifiers.