Exploring the utility of high resolution “nano-” computed tomography imaging to place quantitative constraints on shell biometric changes in marine pteropods in response to ocean acidification
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Understanding and quantifying the response of marine organisms to present and future ocean acidification remains a major challenge encompassing observations on single species in culture and scaling up to the ecosystem and global scale. Understanding calcification changes in culture experiments designed to simulate present and future ocean conditions under potential CO2 emissions scenarios, and especially detecting the likely more subtle changes that may occur prior to the onset of more extreme ocean acidification, depends on the tools available. Here we explore the utility of high-resolution computed tomography (nano-CT) to provide quantitative biometric data on field collected and cultured marine pteropods, using the General Electric Company Phoenix Nanotom S Instrument. The technique is capable of quantitating the whole shell of the organism, allowing shell dimensions to be determined as well as parameters such as average shell thickness, the variation in thickness across the whole shell and in localized areas, total shell volume and surface area and when combined with weight measurements shell density can be calculated. The potential power of the technique is the ability to derive these parameters even on very small organisms less than 1 millimeter in size. Tuning the X-ray strength of the instrument allows organic material to be excluded from the analysis. Through replicate analysis of standards, we assess the reproducibility of data, and by comparison with dimension measurements derived from light microscopy we assess the accuracy of dimension determinations. We present results from historical and modern pteropod populations from the Mediterranean and cultured polar pteropods, resolving statistically significant differences in shell biometrics in both cases that may represent responses to ocean acidification.