Processes that contribute to decreased dimethyl sulfide production in response to ocean acidification in subtropical waters

Long-term time series data show that ocean acidification is occurring in the subtropical oceans. As a component of an in situ mesocosm experiment carried out off Gran Canaria in the subtropical North Atlantic, we examined the influence of ocean acidification on the net production of dimethylsulfide (DMS). Over 23 days under oligotrophic conditions, time-integrated DMS concentrations showed an inverse relationship of −0.21 ± 0.02 nmol DMS nmol−1 H+ across the gradient of H+ concentration of 8.8–23.3 nmol l−1, equivalent to a range of pCO2 of 400–1,252 atm. Proportionally similar decreases in the concentrations of both dissolved and particulate dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) were observed in relation to increasing H+ concentration between the mesocosms. The reduced net production of DMSP with increased acidity appeared to result from a decrease in abundance of a DMSP-rich nanophytoplankton population. A 35S-DMSP tracer approach was used to determine rates of dissolved DMSP catabolism, including DMS production, across the mesocosm treatments. Over a phase of increasing DMS concentrations during the experiment, the specific rates of DMS production were significantly reduced at elevated H+ concentration. These rates were closely correlated to the rates of net DMS production indicating that transformation of dissolved DMSP to DMS by bacteria was a major component of DMS production. It was not possible to resolve whether catabolism of DMSP was directly influenced by H+ concentrations or was an indirect response in the bacterial community composition associated with reduced DMSP availability. There is a pressing need to understand how subtropical planktonic communities respond to the predicted gradual prolonged ocean acidification, as alterations in the emission of DMS from the vast subtropical oceans could influence atmospheric chemistry and potentially climate, over a large proportion of the Earth’s surface.

Archer  S. D., Suffrian K., Posman K. M., Bach L. T., Matrai P. A., Countway P. D., Ludwig A. & Riebesell U., 2018. Processes that contribute to decreased Dimethyl sulfide production in response to ocean acidification in subtropical waters. Frontiers in Marine Science 5: 245. doi:10.3389/fmars.2018.00245. Article.

 

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