Effect of CO2-induced seawater acidification on growth, photosynthesis and inorganic carbon acquisition of the harmful bloom-forming marine microalga, Karenia mikimotoi

Karenia mikimotoi is a widespread, toxic and non-calcifying dinoflagellate, which can release and produce ichthyotoxins and hemolytic toxins affecting the food web within the area of its bloom. Shifts in the physiological characteristics of K. mikimotoi due to CO2-induced seawater acidification could alter the occurrence, severity and impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Here, we investigated the effects of elevated pCO2 on the physiology of K. mikimotoi. Using semi-continuous cultures under controlled laboratory conditions, growth, photosynthesis and inorganic carbon acquisition were determined over 4–6 week incubations at ambient (390ppmv) and elevated pCO2 levels (1000 ppmv and 2000 ppmv). pH-drift and inhibitor-experiments suggested that K. mikimotoi was capable of acquiring HCO3-, and that the utilization of HCO3-was predominantly mediated by anion-exchange proteins, but that HCO3- dehydration catalyzed by external carbonic anhydrase (CAext) only played a minor role in K. mikimotoi. Even though down-regulated CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) and enhanced gross photosynthetic O2 evolution were observed under 1000 ppmv CO2 conditions, the saved energy did not stimulate growth of K. mikimotoi under 1000 ppmv CO2, probably due to the increased dark respiration. However, significantly higher growth and photosynthesis [in terms of photosynthetic oxygen evolution, effective quantum Yield (Yield), photosynthetic efficiency (α), light saturation point (Ek) and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) activity] were observed under 2000 ppmv CO2 conditions. Furthermore, elevated pCO2increased the photo-inhibition rate of photosystem II (β) and non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) at high light. We suggest that the energy saved through the down-regulation of CCMs might lead to the additional light stress and photo-damage. Therefore, the response of this species to elevated CO2 conditions will be determined by more than regulation and efficiency of CCMs.

Hu S., Zhou B., Wang Y., Wang Y., Zhang X., Zhao Y., Zhao X. & Tang X., 2017. Effect of CO2-induced seawater acidification on growth, photosynthesis and inorganic carbon acquisition of the harmful bloom-forming marine microalga, Karenia mikimotoi. PLoS ONE 12(8):e0183289. Article.

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