Response of a natural phytoplankton community from the Qingdao coast (Yellow Sea, China) to variable CO2 levels over a short-term incubation experiment

Since marine phytoplankton play a vital role in stabilizing earth’s climate by removing significant amount of atmospheric CO2, their responses to increasing CO2 levels are indeed vital to address. The responses of a natural phytoplankton community from the Qingdao coast (NW Yellow Sea, China) was studied under different CO2 levels in microcosms. HPLC pigment analysis revealed the presence of diatoms as a dominant microalgal group; however, members of chlorophytes, prasinophytes, cryptophytes and cyanophytes were also present.  13CPOM values indicated that the phytoplankton community probably utilized bicarbonate ions as dissolved inorganic carbon source through a carbon concentration mechanism (CCM) under low CO2 levels, and diffusive CO2 uptake increased upon the increase of external CO2 levels. Although, considerable increase in phytoplankton biomass was noticed in all CO2 treatments, CO2-induced effects were absent. Higher net nitrogen uptake under low CO2 levels could be related to the synthesis of CCM components. Flow cytometry analysis showed slight reduction in the abundance of Synechococcus and pico-eukaryotes under the high CO2 treatments. Diatoms did not show any negative impact in response to increasing CO2 levels; however, chlorophytes revealed a reverse tend. Heterotrophic bacterial count enhanced with increasing CO2 levels and indicated higher abundance of labile organic carbon. Thus, the present study indicates that any change in dissolved CO2 concentrations in this area may affect phytoplankton physiology and community structure and needs further long-term study.

Biswas H., Jie J., Li Y., Zhang G., Zhu Z.-Y., Wu Y., Zhang G.-L., Li Y.-W., Liu S. M. & Zhang J., 2015. Response of a natural phytoplankton community from the Qingdao coast (Yellow Sea, China) to variable CO2 levels over a short-term incubation experiment. Current Science 108(10):1901-1909. Article.


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