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Marine biology

Sea creatures adapt to acid

Sea urchins can radically alter their energy use to cope with more-acidic oceans.

Donal Manahan led a team at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that grew Strongylocentrotus purpuratus urchins in current seawater conditions and in more-acidic conditions that are expected under some climate-change scenarios. They found no difference between the two larva groups in terms of size, gene expression or metabolic rate. But larvae feeding in the more-acidic water allocated 84% of their ATP, which transports energy within cells, to protein synthesis and ion transport, whereas larvae feeding in normal conditions allocated just 55% of their ATP to these tasks.

Altering their metabolism could help sea urchins and other marine organisms to withstand climate change, the authors say.

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA http://doi.org/3cg (2015)

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Sea creatures adapt to acid. Nature 520, 134 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/520134b

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