Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

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 (2015)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sea creatures adapt to acid. Nature 520, 134 (2015).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing