Individual and interacting effects of pCO2 and temperature on Emiliania huxleyi calcification: study of the calcite production, the coccolith morphology and the coccosphere size

The impact of ocean acidification and increased water temperature on marine ecosystems, in particular those involving calcifying organisms, has been gradually recognised. We examined the individual and combined effects of increased pCO2 (180 ppm V CO2, 380 ppm V CO2 and 750 ppm V CO2 corresponding to past, present and future CO2 conditions, respectively) and temperature (13°C and 18°C) during the calcification phase of the coccolithophore E. huxleyi using batch culture experiments. We showed that the cell abundance-normalized particulate organic carbon concentration (POC) increased from the present to the future CO2 treatments. A significant effect of pCO2 and of temperature on calcification was found, manifesting itself in a lower cell abundance-normalized particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) content as well as a lower PIC:POC ratio at future CO2 levels and at 18°C. Coccosphere-sized particles showed a size reduction trend with both increasing temperature and CO2 concentration. The influence of the different treatments on coccolith morphology was studied by categorizing SEM coccolith micrographs. The number of well-formed coccoliths decreased with increasing pCO2 while temperature did not have a significant impact on coccolith morphology. No interacting effect of pCO2 and temperature was observed on calcite production, coccolith morphology or on coccosphere size. Finally, our results suggest that ocean acidification might have a larger adverse impact on coccolithophorid calcification than surface water warming.



De Bodt, C., Van Oostende, N., Harlay, J., Sabbe, K., & Chou, L., 2009. Individual and interacting effects of pCO2 and temperature on Emiliania huxleyi calcification: study of the calcite production, the coccolith morphology and the coccosphere size. Biogeosciences Discussions 6(6): 11127-11157. Article.


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