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Structure and distribution of chalky deposits in the Pacific oyster using x-ray computed tomography (CT)

Citation

Banker, Roxanne; Sumner, Dawn (2021), Structure and distribution of chalky deposits in the Pacific oyster using x-ray computed tomography (CT), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B8X02M

Abstract

Oysters are unusual among bivalves in that they possess chambers, often filled with soft, chalky calcite, that are irregularly scattered throughout the shell. Because the function of these so-called chalky deposits is still unclear, evaluating the growth and distribution of chalk is important for elucidating the ecological function of this unique shell trait. Specimens of the Pacific oyster Magallana gigas, an oyster well known for chalk expression, were grown in Bodega Harbor, Bodega Bay, CA. At the end of an 11 month growing period, specimens were culled and selected animals were submitted for x-ray computed-tomography (CT) imaging. Three-dimensional reconstructions of oyster shells were used to assess the overall distribution of chalk, and also to better understand the relationship between chalk and other structures within the shell. Results indicate that chalky deposits underly sculptural features on the shell exterior, such as external ridges and changes in growth direction, and also that there is a relationship between chalk formation and oyster processes of cementation. Overall, chalk is useful for a cementing lifestyle because it enables morphological plasticity needed to conform to irregular substrates, but also acts as a cheap building material to facilitate rapid growth.

Methods

X-ray tomographic images were obtained on the Zeiss Xradia 520 Versa (Carl Zeiss Microscopy, Inc.) with the Flat Panel extension at the UC Davis Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging (CMGI). This produced 46 um x 46 um x 46 um voxels.