Population-specific responses in physiological rates of Emiliania huxleyi to a broad CO2 range

Although coccolithophore physiological responses to CO2-induced changes in seawater carbonate chemistry have been widely studied in the past, there is limited knowledge on the variability of physiological responses between populations. In the present study, we investigated the population-specific responses of growth, particulate organic (POC) and inorganic carbon (PIC) production rates of 17 strains of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi from three regions in the North Atlantic Ocean (Azores, Canary Islands, and Norwegian coast near Bergen) to a CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) range from 120 µatm to 2630 µatm. Physiological rates of each population and individual strain displayed the expected optimum curve responses to the pCO2 gradient. Optimal pCO2 for growth and POC production rates and tolerance to low pH (i.e. high proton concentration) was significantly higher in an E. huxleyi population isolated from a Norwegian fjord than in those isolated near the Azores and Canary Islands. This may be due to the large pCO2 and pH variability in coastal waters off Bergen compared to the rather stable oceanic conditions at the other two sites. Maximum growth and POC production rates of the Azores and Bergen populations were similar and significantly higher than of the Canary Islands population. One of the reasons may be that the chosen incubation temperature (16 °C) is slightly below what strains isolated near the Canary Islands normally experience. Our results indicate adaptation of E. huxleyi to their local environmental conditions. Within each population, different growth, POC and PIC production rates at different pCO2 levels indicated strain-specific phenotypic plasticity. The existence of distinct carbonate chemistry responses between and within populations will likely benefit E. huxleyi to acclimate to rising CO2 levels in the oceans.

Zhang Y., Bach L. T., Lohbeck K. T., Schulz K. G., Listmann L., Klapper R. & Riebesell U., 2018. Population-specific responses in physiological rates of Emiliania huxleyi to a broad CO2 range. Biogeosciences Discussions. doi: 10.5194/bg-2018-47. Article.



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