The response of two species of unionid mussels to extended exposure to elevated carbon dioxide

Kelly D. Hannan, Jennifer D. Jeffrey, Caleb T. Hasler, Cory D. Suski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changes in environmental conditions can act as stressors, with potential consequences for the health and fitness of organisms. Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) is one potential environmental stressor that is occurring more frequently in the environment and can be a stressor for aquatic organisms. In this study, the physiological responses of two species of unionid mussel, Lampsilis siliquoidea and Amblema plicata, were assessed in response to exposure to two levels of elevated partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) (~ 20,000 and ~ 55,000 μatm) over a 28 d period, followed by a subsequent 14 d recovery period. Observations were consistent with responses associated with respiratory acidosis, as demonstrated by changes in hemolymph HCO3, Ca2 +, Cl, and Na2 +. Both species exposed to elevated pCO2 had elevated hemolymph HCO3 during the pCO2 treatment period compared to control mussels, but recovered once pCO2 was removed. Similarly, both species had elevated hemolymph Na+ during exposure to elevated pCO2, and this returned to control levels for A. plicata but remained elevated for L. siliquoidea once the pCO2 stimuli was removed. Changes in hemolymph Ca2 + and Cl in response to elevated pCO2 were also observed, but these changes were species-specific. Additional physiological responses to elevated pCO2 (e.g., changes in hemolymph glucose and Mg2 +) were consistent with a stress response in both species. This study demonstrates the importance of considering inter-specific differences in the response of organisms to stress, and also that responses to elevated pCO2 may be transient and can recover once the stress is removed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology -Part A : Molecular and Integrative Physiology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Acid-base regulation
  • Bivalve
  • CO
  • Freshwater acidification
  • Ions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology


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