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Ocean acidification alters shellfish-algae nutritional value and delivery


  • Ocean acidification promotes microalgae growth.
  • The nutrient value of microalgae is positively altered under acidifying conditions.
  • Nutrient changes in primary producers can have indirect effects through trophic transfer.
  • Fatty acid content of food sources affects shellfish macromolecular ratios.


The ecological effects of climate change and ocean acidification (OA) have been extensively studied. Various microalgae are ecologically important in the overall pelagic food web as key contributors to oceanic primary productivity. Additionally, no organism exists in isolation in a complex environment, and shifts in food quality may lead to indirect OA effects on consumers. This study aims to investigate the potential effects of OA on algal trophic composition and subsequent bivalve growth. Here, the growth and nutrient fractions of Chlorella sp., Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Chaetocetos muelleri were used to synthesize and assess the impact of OA on primary productivity. Total protein content, total phenolic compounds, and amino acid (AA) and fatty acid (FA) content were evaluated as nutritional indicators. The results demonstrated that the three microalgae responded positively to OA in the future environment, significantly enhancing growth performance and nutritional value as a food source. Additionally, certain macromolecular fractions found in consumers are closely linked to their dietary sources, such as phenylalanine, C14:0, C16:0, C16:1, C20:1n9, C18:0, and C18:3n. Our findings illustrate that OA affects a wide range of crucial primary producers in the oceans, which can disrupt nutrient delivery and have profound impacts on the entire marine ecosystem and human food health.

Jia R., Yin M., Feng X., Chen C., Qu C., Liu L., Li P. & Li Z.-H., 2024. Ocean acidification alters shellfish-algae nutritional value and delivery. Science of the Total Environment 890: 164195. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.170841. Article.

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