Sea urchins cope with rising CO2 levels

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 12:02 in Earth & Climate

( —Increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are causing oceans to become more acidic. This situation poses a threat to marine organisms with shells made of calcium carbonate, because acid will corrode these shells. If they are to survive, these organisms will have to adapt to conditions of high acidity. In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Melissa Pepseni of Indiana University at Bloomington and her colleagues at Stanford University and University of California, Davis report that when exposed to high CO2 levels, purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) experience significant changes in genes that affect survival in an acidic environment. This indicates that the sea urchins can adapt to high CO2 levels caused by climate change.

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