Calcification of an estuarine coccolithophore increases with ocean acidification when subjected to diurnally fluctuating carbonate chemistry

Ocean acidification has the capacity to impact future coccolithophore growth, photosynthesis, and calcification, but experimental culture work with coccolithophores has produced seemingly contradictory results and has focused on open-ocean species. We investigated the influence of pCO2 (between 250 and 750 µatm) on the growth, photosynthetic, and calcification rates of the estuarine coccolithophore Pleurochrysis carterae using a CO2 manipulation system that allowed for natural carbonate chemistry variability, representing the highly variable carbonate chemistry of coastal and estuarine waters. We further considered the influence of pCO2 on dark calcification. Increased pCO2 conditions had no significant impact on P. carterae growth rate or photosynthetic rate. However, P. carterae calcification rates significantly increased at elevated mean pCO2 concentrations of 750 µatm. P. carterae calcification was somewhat, but not completely, light-dependent, with increased calcification rates at elevated mean pCO2 conditions in both light and dark incubations. This trend of increased calcification at higher pCO2 conditions fits into a recently developed substrate-inhibitor concept, which demonstrates a calcification optima concept that broadly fits the experimental results of many studies on the impact of increased pCO2 on coccolithophore calcification.

White M. M., Drapeau D. T., Lubelczyk L. C., Abe V. C., Bowler B. C. & Balch W. M., 2018. Calcification of an estuarine coccolithophore increases with ocean acidification when subjected to diurnally fluctuating carbonate chemistry. Marine Ecology Progress Series 601: 59-76. Article (subscription required).

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