A coral polyp model of photosynthesis, respiration and calcification incorporating a transcellular ion transport mechanism

A numerical simulation model of coral polyp photosynthesis, respiration and calcification was developed. The model is constructed with three components (ambient seawater, coelenteron and calcifying fluid), and incorporates photosynthesis, respiration and calcification processes with transcellular ion transport by Ca-ATPase activity and passive transmembrane CO2 transport and diffusion. The model calculates dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity in the ambient seawater, coelenteron and calcifying fluid, dissolved oxygen (DO) in the seawater and coelenteron and stored organic carbon (CH2O). To reconstruct the drastic variation between light and dark respiration, respiration rate dependency on DO in the coelenteron is incorporated. The calcification rate depends on the aragonite saturation state in the calcifying fluid (Ωa cal). Our simulation result was a good approximation of “light-enhanced calcification.” In our model, the mechanism is expressed as follows: (1) DO in the coelenteron is increased by photosynthesis, (2) respiration is stimulated by increased DO in the light (or respiration is limited by DO depletion in the dark), then (3) calcification increases due to Ca-ATPase, which is driven by the energy generated by respiration. The model simulation results were effective in reproducing the basic responses of the internal CO2 system and DO. The daily calcification rate, the gross photosynthetic rate and the respiration rate under a high-flow condition increased compared to those under the zero-flow condition, but the net photosynthetic rate decreased. The calculated calcification rate responses to variations in the ambient aragonite saturation state (Ωa amb) were nonlinear, and the responses agreed with experimental results of previous studies. Our model predicted that in response to ocean acidification (1) coral calcification will decrease, but will remain at a higher value until Ωa amb decreases to 1, by maintaining a higher Ωa cal due to the transcellular ion transport mechanism and (2) the net photosynthetic rate will increase.

Nakamura T., Nadaoka K. & Watanabe A., in press. A coral polyp model of photosynthesis, respiration and calcification incorporating a transcellular ion transport mechanism. Coral Reefs. Article (subscription required).


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