The capacity of oysters to regulate energy metabolism-related processes may be key to their resilience against ocean acidification

Priscila Goncalves*, Kelli Anderson, David Andrew Raftos, Emma Louise Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Bivalve molluscs, such as oysters, are threatened by shifts in seawater chemistry resulting from climate change. However, a few species and populations within a species stand out for their capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change-associated stressors. Understanding the intracellular basis of such differential responses can contribute to the development of strategies to minimise the pervasive effects of a changing ocean on marine organisms. In this study, we explored the intracellular responses to ocean acidification in two genetically distinct populations of Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata). Selectively bred and wild type oysters exhibited markedly different mitochondrial integrities (mitochondrial membrane potential) and levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in their hemocytes under CO2 stress. Analysis of these cellular parameters after 4 and 15 days of exposure to elevated CO2 indicated that the onset of intracellular responses occurred earlier in the selectively bred oysters when compared to the wild type population. This may be due to an inherent capacity for increased intracellular energy production or adaptive energy reallocation in the selectively bred population. The differences observed in mitochondrial integrity and in ROS formation between oyster breeding lines reveal candidate biological processes that may underlie resilience or susceptibility to ocean acidification. Such processes can be targeted in breeding programs aiming to mitigate the impacts of climate change on threatened species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2059-2071
Number of pages13
JournalAquaculture Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • climate change
  • environmental stress
  • hemocytes
  • reactive oxygen species
  • Saccostrea glomerata
  • selective breeding


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