Ocean acidification effect on prokaryotic metabolism tested in two diverse trophic regimes in the Mediterranean Sea

Notwithstanding the increasing amount of researches on the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems, no consent has emerged on its consequences on many prokaryote-mediated processes. Two mesocosm experiments were performed in coastal Mediterranean areas with different trophic status: the summer oligotrophic Bay of Calvi (BC, Corsica, France) and the winter mesotrophic Bay of Villefranche (BV, France). During these experiments, nine enclosures (∼54 m3) were deployed: 3 unamended controls and 6 elevated CO2, following a gradient up to 1,250 μatm. We present results involving free-living viral and prokaryotic standing stocks, bacterial carbon production, abundance of highly active cells (CTC+), and degradation processes (beta-glucosidase, chitinase, leucine-aminopeptidase, lipase and alkaline phosphatase activities).

The experiments revealed clear differences in the response of the two prokaryotic communities to CO2 manipulation. Only abundances of heterotrophic prokaryotes, viruses and lipase activity were not affected by CO2 manipulation at both locations. On the contrary, the percent of CTC+ was positively correlated to CO2 only in BC, concomitantly to a bulk reduction of [3H]-leucine uptake. The other tested parameters showed a different response at the two sites suggesting that the trophic regime of the systems plays a fundamental role on the effect of OA on prokaryotes through indirect modifications of the available substrate.

Modified degradation rates may affect considerably the export of organic matter to the seafloor and thus ecosystem functioning within the water column. Our results highlight the need to further analyse the consequences of OA in oligotrophic ecosystems with particular focus on dissolved organic matter.

Celussi M., Malfatti F., Franzo A., Gazeau F., Giannakourou A., Pitta P., Tsiola A. & Del Negro P., in press. Ocean acidification effect on prokaryotic metabolism tested in two diverse trophic regimes in the Mediterranean Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Article (subscription required).


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