The Impact of Ocean Acidification on Ribbed Mussel

A project conducted in Dr. Grella’s research course.

Mia Cubias, Research Student

Mia Cubias

Ocean acidification and decreased pH levels in our ocean impact the formation of the byssus threads in the Ribbed mussel, also known as Geukensia DemissaOcean acidification is caused by atmospheric carbon dioxide that is released into the air by things such as fossil fuel burning and gas emissions.

Research done by the United States Environmental Protection Agency indicates that the acidity of the ocean today, on average, is about 25% higher than it was during preindustrial times, and is only going up from here. Ocean Acidification not only affects the growth and formation of Byssus plaques in the Ribbed Mussel, but it also causes deterioration of the shells and skeletons made from calcium carbonate structures in many marine organisms in our oceans. 

Organisms such as coral reefs are greatly affected by this issue. The coral reefs that were once vibrant and lively are rapidly becoming grim with no color or character. The aim of this study was to analyze the different ways that ocean acidification affects the formation and strength of the byssal threads produced by the ribbed mussel. As well as observe whether the length of these byssal threads is affected by the different pH levels. 

To start off these studies, an experiment was put together where three replicas with two mussels in each replica were set up into 1,000 ml beakers. Six mussels were exposed to water temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius while the other six were put into water with a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. Over the course of three days, the number of byssus plaques, the length of the longest byssus (cm), the length of the entire mussel (cm), and the Width of entire mussel (cm) were recorded.

From the findings in this studyit was discovered that the mussels put into below temperature water appeared to grow more byssus threads and tended to have longer threads. The next step in this research would be to re-do this experiment and better analyze the findings, as well as explore algaes that the Geukensia Demissa consumes and how the algaes and bacterias respond to changes in their environment.