Elevated CO2 Enhances Otolith Growth in Young Fish

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Science  26 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5935, pp. 1683
DOI: 10.1126/science.1169806

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A large fraction of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity enters the sea, causing ocean acidification. We show that otoliths (aragonite ear bones) of young fish grown under high CO2 (low pH) conditions are larger than normal, contrary to expectation. We hypothesize that CO2 moves freely through the epithelium around the otoliths in young fish, accelerating otolith growth while the local pH is controlled. This is the converse of the effect commonly reported for structural biominerals.

  • Present address: Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, 1551-8, Taira-machi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki 851-2213, Japan.

  • Present address: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.

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