Effects of hypoxia and non-lethal shell damage on shell mechanical and geochemical properties of a calcifying polychaete

Leung, Jonathan Y. S.; Cheung, Napo K. M.

Calcification is a vital biomineralization process where calcifying organisms construct their calcareous shells for protection. While this process is expected to deteriorate under hypoxia, which reduces the metabolic energy yielded by aerobic respiration, some calcifying organisms were shown to maintain normal shell growth. The underlying mechanism remains largely unknown, but may be related to changing shell mineralogical properties, whereby shell growth is sustained at the expense of shell quality. Thus, we examined whether such plastic response is exhibited to alleviate the impact of hypoxia on calcification by assessing the shell growth and shell properties of a calcifying polychaete in two contexts (life-threatening and unthreatened conditions). Although hypoxia substantially reduced respiration rate (i.e., less metabolic energy produced), shell growth was only slightly hindered without weakening mechanical strength under unthreatened conditions. Unexpectedly, hypoxia did not undermine defence response (i.e., enhanced shell growth and mechanical strength) under life-threatening conditions, which may be attributed to the changes in mineralogical properties (e.g., increased calcite / aragonite) to reduce the energy demand for calcification. While more soluble shells (e.g., increased Mg inline-formula∕ Ca in calcite) were produced under hypoxia as the trade-off, our findings suggest that mineralogical plasticity could be fundamental for calcifying organisms to maintain calcification under metabolic stress conditions.

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Leung, Jonathan Y. S. / Cheung, Napo K. M.: Effects of hypoxia and non-lethal shell damage on shell mechanical and geochemical properties of a calcifying polychaete. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Jonathan Y. S. Leung

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