Effects of ocean acidification on gene expression in marine invertebrate
Excess carbon dioxide emissions are causing the oceans to acidify and with this decrease in pH decreasing mineral saturation in the ocean. This makes it difficult for marine invertebrates to make a skeleton or shell. There is a large weight of evidence of the stunting effect of ocean acidification on echinoderm development, including skeleton formation, however little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects and the potentially confounding influence of temperature.
Ocean warming is especially relevant along the east Australian coast with greater rates of warming waters. Shawna Foo of the University of Sydney, and a 2012 SIMS Doctoral Fellow, will investigate the effects of ocean acidification and warming on gene expression in marine invertebrate development, to help understand the dwarfing effect it has on larval and skeletal growth.
Shawna will analyse the quantitative effects of near future ocean pH conditions on important developmental genes, to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the negative effects of ocean acidification. The data will help identify major cellular and developmental processes that are affected.