Probing molecular determinants of bivalve resilience to ocean acidification
Bivalve molluscs represent the first marine resource in dockside value in several states, particularly along the East Coast. While production traditionally relied on wild capture, bivalve aquaculture production in the last few decades has been displaying double digit annual growth. At the same time, hatchery production of seed, a main component of bivalve aquaculture growth, has been seriously hampered by ocean acidification in some of the major hatcheries in the nation. Worryingly, recent studies showed that the impact of current levels of coastal acidification on bivalve production in embayments along the east coasts is likely much more dramatic than initially thought. Nevertheless, the long-term effect of ocean acidification on these animals remains unpredictable, in part because of the strikingly limited information on intra- and inter-species susceptibility to acidification and on factors affecting species and individual resilience. "Winners" and "losers" exist within each species and between species, and studies that comprehensively assess genetic determinants of resilience are lacking. This research will fill this important gap and identify molecular markers and mechanisms associated with resilience to acidification in some of the most important bivalve species along the East Coast. This research has major implications for basic and applied science. It will determine molecular and physiological mechanisms and pathways involved in bivalve natural resilience to acidification and identify molecular features associated with resilience. This information is greatly needed for the management of wild fisheries and for the development of resilient varieties of aquacultured stocks. Resilient broodstocks will provide the industry with superior germline to face current and projected episodes of acidification in local waters.