Although recent studies have demonstrated that calcification in a wide range of marine organisms is profoundly affected by CO2-induced ocean acidification, the mechanism of this phenomenon is still unclear. To clarify the effects of ocean acidification on the calcification process at the molecular level, we evaluated the expression of three biomineralization-related genes in the sea urchin Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus exposed under control, 1,000, and 2,000 ppm CO2 from egg to pluteus larval stage. We found that the expression of the gene msp130, which is proposed to transport Ca2+ to the calcification site, is suppressed by increased CO2 at pluteus larval stage. Meanwhile, expression of the spicule protein matrix genes SM30 and SM50 was apparently not affected. The results suggest that the combined effects of ocean acidification on the expression of skeletogenesis-related genes as well as the change in seawater carbonate chemistry affect the biomineralization ability of sea urchins.
Kurihara H., Takano Y., Kurokawa D. & Akasaka K., in press. Ocean acidification reduces biomineralization-related gene expression in the sea urchin, Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus. Marine Biology. doi: 10.1007/s00227-012-2043-1. Article (subscription required).