Ocean acidification conditions increase resilience of marine diatoms

The fate of diatoms in future acidified oceans could have dramatic implications on marine ecosystems, because they account for ~40% of marine primary production. Here, we quantify resilience of Thalassiosira pseudonana in mid-20th century (300 ppm CO2) and future (1000 ppm CO2) conditions that cause ocean acidification, using a stress test that probes its ability to recover from incrementally higher amount of low-dose ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) radiation and re-initiate growth in day–night cycles, limited by nitrogen. While all cultures eventually collapse, those growing at 300 ppm CO2 succumb sooner. The underlying mechanism for collapse appears to be a system failure resulting from “loss of relational resilience,” that is, inability to adopt physiological states matched to N-availability and phase of the diurnal cycle. Importantly, under elevated CO2 conditions diatoms sustain relational resilience over a longer timeframe, demonstrating increased resilience to future acidified ocean conditions. This stress test framework can be extended to evaluate and predict how various climate change associated stressors may impact microbial community resilience.

Valenzuela J. J., de Lomana A. L. G., Lee A., Armbrust E. V., Orellana M. V. & Baliga N. S., 2018. Ocean acidification conditions increase resilience of marine diatoms. Nature Communications 9: 2328. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04742-3. Article.

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