Carbonic anhydrase activity changes in response to increased temperature and pCO2 in Symbiodinium–zoanthid associations

Carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up less than 1% of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the ocean. To acquire carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, many marine autotrophs rely on the enzyme carbonic anhydrase (CA) to catalyze the conversion of bicarbonate ions (HCO3−) to CO2. In zoanthids and other cnidarians with Symbiodinium spp. endosymbionts, CA is essential for transporting CO2 to symbionts for photosynthesis. Temperature and ambient DIC affect CA activity, therefore, increased sea water temperatures and ocean acidification (OA) will alter CO2 transport in symbiotic cnidarians. However, these effects are likely to be species specific for both host and symbiont, as different cnidarians and Symbiodinium spp. vary in their mechanisms of DIC transport and utilization of CA. In this study, host and symbiont CA activity in the zoanthids Palythoa sp. and Zoanthus sp. varied with thermal stress and low pH. Increased temperature inhibited algal, but not host CA activity in Zoanthus sp. polyps with A4 Symbiodinium, while temperature had no effect on CA activity in Palythoa sp. with C1 Symbiodinium. High pCO2/low pH altered algal CA activity in both zoanthid species, but host CA activity changed in Zoanthus sp. polyps only. This study shows that thermal stress and OA induce species-specific changes in CA activity, and thus DIC transport in symbiotic zoanthids. These observations suggest that CA activity in symbiotic cnidarians will be altered by climate conditions predicted for the future, and for some cnidarians, changes in CA activity may inhibit photosynthesis.

Graham E. R., Parekh A., Devassy R. K. & Sanders R. W., 2015. Carbonic anhydrase activity changes in response to increased temperature and pCO2 in Symbiodinium–zoanthid associations. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 473:218–226. Article (subscription required).

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