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Purple sea urchin

New research shows why Noah’s ark would not work

A first of a kind study has illuminated that marine species will survive even though in a world where the temperatures are rising and acidity is increasing in the water.

Melissa Pespeni a biologist at the University of Vermont who led the new research has said that moderately sized remnants may have little chance to persist on a climate-changed planet. She led a research which studied the larvae for experiments where the water was made acidic and alkaline. The study has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal.

Small minorities of urchins were studied and surprisingly they found out a rare variation in DNA which was essential for their survival. When the water was made acidic the variants increased the frequency in water and let the next generation to choose how the proteins function like the shells which are hard but can be easily dissolved to manage the acidity in the cells. Along with these other needed genetic variation helped them survive in acidic conditions or a range of acid levels. The bigger the population, greater is the variation in the species. If we have a smaller population there are lesser chances of having a genetic variation.


Some organisms have the potential to survive the change due to change in physiology and due to the ability of migration but for many others, their only hope lies in evolution and potential changes in their DNA. The purple sea urchins which stretch from the reefs from California to Alaska are a snack for the otters. Due to the huge number of urchins and the wide expanse of the geographical area, urchins are likely survivors of the harsh future of rising temperatures and acidified oceans. The UVM team has written that the genetic mechanisms that allow rapid adaptation to extreme climatic conditions have been rarely explored.

A single generation experiment was started with 25 urchins caught from the wild. Each female of those 25 produced close to 200,000 eggs each out of which 20,000 survived, the DNA samples of this pool was taken for study and research. This large gene pool gave scientists the idea that the urchins could survive in acidic conditions. They can survive these slight changes in pH and can continue to protect them as long as they keep their population large. Discoveries of facts like these have long term implications on their survival and continuity of their species.

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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