Assessing approaches to determine the effect of ocean acidification on bacterial processes

Bacterial extracellular enzymes play a significant role in the degradation of labile organic matter and nutrient availability in the open ocean. Although bacterial production and extracellular enzymes may be affected by ocean acidification, few studies to date have considered the methodology used to measure enzyme activity and bacterial processes. This study investigated the potential artefacts in determining the response of bacterial extracellular glucosidase and aminopeptidase to ocean acidification, and the relative effects of three different acidification techniques. Tests confirmed that the fluorescence of the artificial fluorophores was affected by pH, and that addition of MCA fluorescent substrate alters seawater pH. In experiments testing different acidification methods, bubbling with CO2 gas mixtures resulted in higher β-glucosidase activity relative to acidification by their introduction via gas-permeable silicon tubing, or by acid addition (HCl). In addition, bacterial numbers were 15–40 % higher with bubbling relative to seawater acidified with gas-permeable silicon tubing and HCl. Bubbling may lead to overestimation of carbohydrate degradation and bacterial abundance, and consequently incorrect interpretation of the impacts of ocean acidification on organic matter cycling.

Burrell T. J., Maas E. W., Teesdale-Spittle P. & Law C. S., 2016. Assessing approaches to determine the effect of ocean acidification on bacterial processes. Biogeosciences Discussions 1-24. Article.


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