The effects of ocean acidification on Prochlorococcus

Prochlorococcus is the most abundant cyanobacteria in the global ocean, and is a part of the marine microbial loop. Climate change, a stressor, presents many threats to Prochlorococcus, two of which are of major concern: increased temperature and increased acidity. Both pH and temperature are not constant and vary in the ocean seasonally, diurnally, and meteorologically. This variation suggests that stress related to interactions with these variables may be complex. This present study examined the effects of lowered pH and increased temperature on Prochlorococcus in the short term. Two strains of Prochlorococcus, high-light and low-light, were manipulated to experience increased temperature, decreased pH, and a combination of the effects and both strains’ responses was observed. Photosynthetic health significantly differed in the low-light clade when the pH was lowered (p = 0.045). Extracted chlorophyll showed statistical variation in the high-light clade when pH was lowered (p = 0.036), and in the low-light clade in both treatments where pH was lowered and temperature was increased (both p < 0.001). There was no statistical difference when temperature and pH were manipulated at the same time. However, more data is needed to see if these results are replicable and to see how this would affect grazing intensity and community structure.

Aylor A., 2018. The effects of ocean acidification on Prochlorococcus. BSc thesis, Wittenberg University, 20 p. Thesis.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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