Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Acid Test: Armor-Covered Plankton Adapt to Warming World


Tiny armor-covered creatures that float along with the ocean's currents may adapt and survive, if badly, as their watery world warms and becomes more acidic, a new study finds.

Even so, the plankton may become flimsier and could turn into more of a "french fry" than a nutritious snack for its consumers.

As more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, gets pumped into the atmosphere, and ultimately dissolves in the oceans, the seas are becoming more acidic. How this will impact life in the oceans is not known, though various studies have undertaken the challenge to find out.

In the new study, a trio of scientists at the Helmholtz Center for Oceanographic Research in Kiel, Germany, bred a variety of phytoplankton, called Emiliania huxleyi, to tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide dissolved in the water.

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