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The subtle effects of sea water acidification on the amphipod Gammarus locusta

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Abstract:

We report an investigation of the effects of increases in pCO2 on the growth and molecular physiology of the neritic amphipod Gammarus locusta, which has a cosmopolitan distribution in estuaries. Amphipods were reared from juvenile to mature adult in laboratory microcosms at three different levels of pH in nominal range 8.1–7.6. Growth rate was estimated from weekly measures of body length. At sexual maturity the amphipods were sacrificed and assayed for changes in the expression of genes coding for a heat shock protein (hsp70 gene) and the metabolic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gapdh gene). The data show that the growth and survival rate of this species is not significantly impacted by a decrease in sea water pH of up to 0.5 units. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis indicated that there was no significant effect of growth in acidified sea water on the expression of the hsp70 gene. However, there was a consistent and significant increase in the expression of the gapdh gene at a pH of ~7.5 which indicated a possible disruption to oxidative metabolic processes. It was concluded that future predicted changes in sea water pH may have subtle effects on the physiology and metabolism of coastal and marine species which may be overlooked in studies of whole organism response.

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