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Effects of seawater chemistry (Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio) and diet on the skeletal Mg/Ca ratio in the common sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus

Kołbuk, Dorota, Dubois, Philippe, Stolarski, Jarosław, Gorzelak, Przemysław
Marine environmental research 2019
Paracentrotus lividus, Phanerozoic eon, biomineralization, calcium, diet, fossils, ions, magnesium, models, seawater, skeleton
It has been argued that concentration of major metallic ions such as Mg2+ and Ca2+ plays a role in determining the composition of the echinoderm skeleton. Consequently, in several studies Mg/Ca ratio from modern and fossil echinoderm ossicles was used as a proxy of secular Mg2+/Ca2+ changes of Phanerozoic seawater. However, although significant progress has been made in understanding biomineralization of echinoderms, it is still largely unknown what are the sources and physiological pathways of major ions that contribute to skeleton formation. Herein we tested the effects of modifications of ambient seawater Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio (which is typically ∼5) and Mg-enrichment of the diet on the Mg/Ca ratio in regenerating spines of sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus under experimental conditions. We found that sea urchins cultured in seawater with Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio decreased to ∼1.9 produced a skeleton with also decreased Mg/Ca ratio. However, the skeleton of specimens fed on a Mg-enriched diet showed significantly higher Mg/Ca ratio. This suggests that the seawater is an important but not the only source of ions that contributes to the Mg/Ca ratio of the skeleton. Consequently, the reliability of geochemical models that link directly seawater chemistry with the Mg/Ca ratio of the skeleton should be reevaluated.