Synergism between elevated pCO2 and temperature on the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia lecointei

Polar oceans are particularly susceptible to ocean acidification and warming. Diatoms play a significant role in sea ice biogeochemistry and provide an important food source to grazers in ice-covered oceans, especially during early spring. However, the ecophysiology of ice living organisms has received little attention in terms of ocean acidification. In this study, the synergism between temperature and partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) was investigated in relationship to the optimal growth temperature of the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia lecointei. Diatoms were kept in cultures at controlled levels of pCO2 (∼390 and ∼960 μatm}) and temperature (−1.8 and 2.5 °C) for 14 days. Synergism between temperature and pCO2 was detected in growth rate and acyl lipid fatty acid content. Carbon enrichment only promoted (3%) growth rate closer to the optimal growth, but not at the control temperature (−1.8 °C). Optimal growth rate was observed around 5 °C in a separate experiment. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) comprised up to 98% of the total acyl lipid fatty acid pool at −1.8 °C. However, the total content of fatty acids was reduced by 39% at elevated pCO2, but only at the control temperature. PUFAs were reduced by 30% at high pCO2. Effects of carbon enrichment may be different depending on ocean warming scenario or season, e.g. reduced food quality for higher trophic levels during spring. Synergy between temperature and pCO2 may be particularly important in polar areas since a narrow thermal window generally limits cold-water organisms.

Torstensson A., Hedblom M., Andersson J., Andersson M. X. & Wulff, A., 2013. Synergism between elevated pCO2 and temperature on the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia lecointei. Biogeosciences Discussions 10: 6637-6669. Article.

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