Posted on EPOCA: 24 Jul 2011
As the atmospheric levels of CO2 rise from human activity, the carbonic acid levels of the ocean increase, causing ocean acidification. This increase in acidity breaks down the calcified bodies that many marine organisms depend upon. Upwelling regions such as Monterey Bay in California have pH levels that are not expected to reach the open ocean for a few decades. This study reviews one of the common intertidal animals of the California coast, the Owl Limpet Lottia gigantea, and its genetic variation of the plasma membrane Ca2+ ATPase (PMCA) in relation to the acidity of its environment. The PMCA protein functions in the calcification process of many organisms. Specifically in limpets, this gene functions to form its protective shell. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found among five sections of the gene to determine variation between the acidic environment population in Monterey, California and the non-acidic environment population in Santa Barbara, California. While some variation was determined, the Monterey Bay and Santa Barbara Lottia gigantea populations are not significantly distinct at the PMCA gene. Sections B, C, and D were found to be linked. Only one location in Section B was found to have an amino acid change within an exon. Section A has the strongest connection to the sampling location. Monterey individuals were seen to be more genetically recognizable, while Santa Barbara individuals showed slightly more variation. Understanding the trends of ocean acidification, upwelling region activities, and population genetics will assist in determining how the ocean environment will behave in the future.
Aguilera S., 2011. A comparison of the SNP variation in the calcification PMCA gene of Lottia gigantea between a Santa Barbara population and a more acidic Monterey Bay population. Bachelor thesis, Stanford University, 89 p. Thesis.