Wanted Dead or Alive: Skeletal Structure Alteration of Cold-Water Coral Desmophyllum pertusum (Lophelia pertusa) from Anthropogenic Stressors

Erica terese Krueger, Janina v. Büscher, David a. Hoey, David Taylor, Peter j. O’reilly, Quentin g. Crowley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Ocean acidification (OA) has provoked changes in the carbonate saturation state that may alter the formation and structural biomineralisation of calcium carbonate exoskeletons for marine organisms. Biomineral production in organisms such as cold-water corals (CWC) rely on available carbonate in the water column and the ability of the organism to sequester ions from seawater or nutrients for the formation and growth of a skeletal structure. As an important habitat structuring species, it is essential to examine the impact that anthropogenic stressors (i.e., OA and rising seawater temperatures) have on living corals and the structural properties of dead coral skeletons; these are important contributors to the entire reef structure and the stability of CWC mounds. In this study, dead coral skeletons in seawater were exposed to various levels of pCO2 and different temperatures over a 12-month period. Nanoindentation was subsequently conducted to assess the structural properties of coral samples’ elasticity (E) and hardness (H), whereas the amount of dissolution was assessed through scanning electron microscopy. Overall, CWC samples exposed to elevated pCO2 and temperature show changes in properties which leave them more susceptible to breakage and may in turn negatively impact the formation and stability of CWC mound development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 10 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication has emanated from research supported by a research grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under Grant Numbers 13/RC/2092 and 13/RC/2092_P2. Coral samples came from a large-scale laboratory experiment as part of the “FATE of cold-water corals—drivers of ecosystem change” project led by Tina Kutti and funded by the Research Council of Norway Grant Number 244604/E40, which focused on the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on cold-water coral reef communities.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • biomechanics
  • biomineralisation
  • climate change
  • cold-water coral
  • porosity
  • ocean acidification


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