Species-specific responses of temperate macroalgae with different photosynthetic strategies to ocean acidification: a mesocosm study

Concerns about how ocean acidification will impact marine organisms have steadily increased in recent years, but there is a lack of knowledge on the responses of macroalgae. Here, we adopt an outdoor continuous-flowing mesocosm system designed for ocean acidification experiment that allows high CO2 conditions to vary with natural fluctuations in the environment. Following the establishment of the mesocosm, five species of macroalgae that are common along the coast of Korea (namely Ulva pertusa, Codium fragile, Sargassum thunbergii, S. horneri, and Prionitis cornea) were exposed to three different CO2 concentrations: ambient (×1) and elevated CO2 (2× and 4× ambient), over two-week period, and their ecophysiological traits were measured. Results indicated that both photosynthesis and growth exhibited species-specific responses to the different CO2 concentrations. Most notably, photosynthesis and growth increased in S. thunbergii when exposed to elevated CO2 conditions but decreased in P. cornea. The preference for different inorganic carbon species (CO2 and HCO3−), which were estimated by gross photosynthesis in the presence and absence of the external carbonic anhydrase (eCA) inhibitor acetazolamide, were also found to vary among species and CO2 treatments. Specifically, the two Sargassum species exhibited decreased eCA inhibition of photosynthesis with increased growth when exposed to high CO2 conditions. In contrast, growth of U. pertusa and C. fragile were not notably affected by increased CO2. Together, these results suggest that the five species of macroalgae may respond differently to changes in ocean acidity, with species-specific responses based on their differentiated photosynthetic acclimation. Understanding these physiological changes might allow us to better predict future changes in macroalgal communities in a more acidic ocean.

Kim J.-H., Kang E. J., Edwards M. S., Lee K., Jeong H. J. & Kim K. Y., 2016. Species-specific responses of temperate macroalgae with different photosynthetic strategies to ocean acidification: a mesocosm study. Algae 31(3):243-256. Article.

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