Ecophysiological responses to elevated CO2 and temperature in Cystoseira tamariscifolia (Phaeophyceae)

Ocean acidification increases the amount of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) available in seawater which can benefit photosynthesis in those algae that are currently carbon limited, leading to shifts in the structure and function of seaweed communities. Recent studies have shown that ocean acidification-driven shifts in seaweed community dominance will depend on interactions with other factors such as light and nutrients. The study of interactive effects of ocean acidification and warming can help elucidate the likely effects of climate change on marine primary producers. In this study, we investigated the ecophysiological responses of Cystoseira tamariscifolia (Hudson) Papenfuss. This large brown macroalga plays an important structural role in coastal Mediterranean communities. Algae were collected from both oligotrophic and ultraoligotrophic waters in southern Spain. They were then incubated in tanks at ambient (ca. 400–500 ppm) and high CO2 (ca. 1200–1300 ppm), and at 20 °C (ambient temperature) and 24 °C (ambient temperature +4 °C). Increased CO2 levels benefited the algae from both origins. Biomass increased in elevated CO2 treatments and was similar in algae from both origins. The maximal electron transport rate (ETRmax), used to estimate photosynthetic capacity, increased in ambient temperature/high CO2 treatments. The highest polyphenol content and antioxidant activity were observed in ambient temperature/high CO2 conditions in algae from both origins; phenol content was higher in algae from ultraoligotrophic waters (1.5–3.0%) than that from oligotrophic waters (1.0–2.2%). Our study shows that ongoing ocean acidification can be expected to increase algal productivity (ETRmax), boost antioxidant activity (EC50), and increase production of photoprotective phenols. Cystoseira tamariscifolia collected from oligotrophic and ultraoligotrophic waters were able to benefit from increases in DIC at ambient temperatures. Warming, not acidification, may be the key stressor for this habitat as CO2 levels continue to rise.

Celis-Plá P. S. M., Martínez B., Korbee N. & Hall-Spencer J. M., 2017. Ecophysiological responses to elevated CO2 and temperature in Cystoseira tamariscifolia (Phaeophyceae). Climatic Change. Article (subscription required).

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