Ocean acidification (OA) is beginning to have noticeable negative impact on calcification rate, shell structure and physiological energy budgeting of several marine organisms; these alter the growth of many economically important shellfish including oysters. Early life stages of oysters may be particularly vulnerable to OA-driven low pH conditions because their shell is made up of the highly soluble form of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) mineral, aragonite. Our long-term CO2 perturbation experiment showed that larval shell growth rate of the oyster species Crassostrea hongkongensis was significantly reduced at pH < 7.9 compared to the control (8.2). To gain new insights into the underlying mechanisms of low-pH-induced delays in larval growth, we have examined the effect of pH on the protein expression pattern, including protein phosphorylation status at the pediveliger larval stage. Using two-dimensional electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, we demonstrated that the larval proteome was significantly altered by the two low pH treatments (7.9 and 7.6) compared to the control pH (8.2). Generally, the number of expressed proteins and their phosphorylation level decreased with low pH. Proteins involved in larval energy metabolism and calcification appeared to be down-regulated in response to low pH, whereas cell motility and production of cytoskeletal proteins were increased. This study on larval growth coupled with proteome change is the first step toward the search for novel Protein Expression Signatures indicative of low pH, which may help in understanding the mechanisms involved in low pH tolerance.
Dineshram R., Thiyagarajan V., Lane A., Ziniu Y., Xiao S. & Leung P. T. Y., in press. Elevated CO2 alters larval proteome and its phosphorylation status in the commercial oyster, Crassostrea hongkongensis. Marine Biology. Article (subscription required).