Probing molecular determinants of bivalve resilience to ocean acidification

Bivalves, such as oysters, clams and blue mussels rank highest in dockside value in several states along the east coast. They are not only valuable in their wild harvest, but the industry around bivalve aquaculture has been growing over the past few decades as well. Seed production is one component of bivalve aquaculture that has already been impacted by ocean acidification at some of the major hatcheries in the nation. Scientists at Stony Brook University are probing what determines the resilience of these bivalves to ocean acidification. They will do this by identifying which genetic features are associated with resilience in oysters, clams and blue mussels. With knowledge of what allows for natural resilience to acidification in these species, fisheries managers and members of the aquaculture industry are better equipped to adapt in a way that allows these fisheries to thrive in the future.

The highly dynamic and variable coastal and estuarine waters in which these species live also represent an area of rich genetic diversity, which can be a major driver for resilience in a changing environment. This research will not only identify genetic markers but also physiological mechanisms in the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), the hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria), and the blue mussel Mytilus edulis that mediate adaptation and evaluate energetic cost of physiological acclimation to higher carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions.

Lead Investigator(s):  Bassam Allam

Co-Investigators: Emmanuelle Pales Espinosa


This project is supported in partnership by NOAA Ocean Acidification and the Northeast Sea Grant Programs