Community-level response of coastal microbial biofilms to ocean acidification in a natural carbon dioxide vent ecosystem

The impacts of ocean acidification on coastal biofilms are poorly understood. Carbon dioxide vent areas provide an opportunity to make predictions about the impacts of ocean acidification. We compared biofilms that colonised glass slides in areas exposed to ambient and elevated levels of pCO2 along a coastal pH gradient, with biofilms grown at ambient and reduced light levels. Biofilm production was highest under ambient light levels, but under both light regimes biofilm production was enhanced in seawater with high pCO2. Uronic acids are a component of biofilms and increased significantly with high pCO2. Bacteria and Eukarya denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profile analysis showed clear differences in the structures of ambient and reduced light biofilm communities, and biofilms grown at high pCO2 compared with ambient conditions. This study characterises biofilm response to natural seabed CO2 seeps and provides a baseline understanding of how coastal ecosystems may respond to increased pCO2 levels.

Lidbury I., Johnson V., Hall-Spencer J. M., Munn C. B., & Cunliffe M., in press. Community-level response of coastal microbial biofilms to ocean acidification in a natural carbon dioxide vent ecosystem. Marine Pollution Bulletin doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.02.011. Article (subscription required).


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