Resistance of Pacific Oyster Larvae and Juveniles to the Effects of Ocean Acidification

Chris Langdon
Hatfield Marine Science Center
Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station
Oregon State University
2030 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, Oregon 97365
Phone: 541-867-0231
Fax: 541-867-0345

Co-PIs: George Waldbusser, OSU; Eli Meyer, OSU

Elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) renders seawater acidic and corrosive, seriously threatening West Coast shellfish hatcheries and farmers when shellfish larvae fail to develop shells, and die. Although preliminary efforts to chemically treat seawater pumped into hatchery facilities have improved the situation, hatchery production in Oregon and Washington is still not optimal. And while it is relatively easy to treat high-CO2 water in a controlled hatchery setting, very few options exist to achieve this on aquaculture farms. Under natural conditions, summertime upwelling, which occurs on Oregon's coast when winds act to bring deep water to the surface, brings with it elevated CO2.

Dr. Chris Langdon, diretor of the OSU Molluscan Broodstock Program, has developed selected oyster stocks that produce better-performing larvae during periods of upwelling. However, this performance has not been experimentally tested in laboratory or commercial environments. Researchers want to learn whether oysters bred for early-life tolerance to acidified water pass that on to their offspring over generations. That knowledge will help breeders determine the best strategy to further improve stocks through selection or cross-breeding. Identifying genetic markers will allow rapid screening to identify broodstock that produce progeny with greater tolerance to upwelling and acidified water. Improved broodstock will help sustain the multi-million dollar West Coast shellfish industry in the face of intensifying ocean acidification.