Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Adapting to Extreme Environments

04.05.2009
A student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia is bringing understanding to the troubling problem of ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

As an undergraduate, Kim Davies worked with Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe, biology professor at the University Victoria, examining how mussels have adapted to extremely acidic waters near underwater volcanoes. The paper she co-authored will be published in the May issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

“It’s such a euphoric feeling to see that something I did as an undergrad is regarded as important science,” says Ms. Davies, a PhD student at Dalhousie whose research is now focused on the feeding ecology of the North Atlantic right whale. “Wow, it’s so great just to see your name in a high-level journal.”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted to the atmosphere by human activities is being absorbed by the oceans, making them more acidic. Evidence indicates that emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities over the past two centuries have already led to a reduction in the average pH of surface seawater. Because acidification affects the process of calcification, the impact is severe on marine animals like corals, plankton and mollusks which have shells or plates.

So what happens to these animals over time? That’s what the researchers wanted to find out by examining vent mussels (Bathymodiolus brevior) living on the side of submarine volcanoes. The mussels, which have a calcium carbonate skeleton, are under constant stress, bathed by carbon dioxide bubbling out of the ground and from hydro-thermal vents deep beneath the surface.

And yet some of the mussels, gathered by remotely operated vehicles along the Mariano volcanic arc near Japan, were determined to be more than 40 years old and had physiologically adapted to living in their extreme environment.

The researchers discovered the mussels grew much slower than mussels in other areas and their shells were very thin. As well, the mussels’ shells were completely covered with protective protein coverings; any breach of that outer layer would quickly destroy the mussel by dissolving the underlying calcium carbonate.

“Their shells—you could see right through them,” says Ms. Davies, who did the lab analysis of samples gathered some 1,500 metres below the surface. “And yet, this species of mussels was able to adapt and build up a tolerance living close to these hydro-thermal vents as long as their protective covering was intact.”

She surmised mussels in other areas would be more vulnerable to ocean acidification because of crabs that scurry over them and wear away at their protective covering. Those predators were absent in the mussel beds near the hydro-thermal vents.

Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.dal.ca

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Canadian glaciers now major contributor to sea level change, UCI study shows
15.02.2017 | University of California - Irvine

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>