Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation

Marine phytoplankton such as bloom-forming, calcite-producing coccolithophores, are naturally exposed to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 280–400 nm) in the ocean’s upper mixed layers. Nevertheless, the effects of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2)-induced ocean acidification and warming have rarely been investigated in the presence of UVR. We examined calcification and photosynthetic carbon fixation performance in the most cosmopolitan coccolithophorid, Emiliania huxleyi, grown under high (1000 µatm, HC; pHT: 7.70) and low (400 µatm, LC; pHT: 8.02) CO2 levels, at 15 ∘C, 20 ∘C and 24 ∘C with or without UVR. The HC treatment did not affect photosynthetic carbon fixation at 15 ∘C, but significantly enhanced it with increasing temperature. Exposure to UVR inhibited photosynthesis, with higher inhibition by UVA (320–395 nm) than UVB (295–320 nm), except in the HC and 24 ∘C-grown cells, in which UVB caused more inhibition than UVA. A reduced thickness of the coccolith layer in the HC-grown cells appeared to be responsible for the UV-induced inhibition, and an increased repair rate of UVA-derived damage in the HC–high-temperature grown cells could be responsible for lowered UVA-induced inhibition. While calcification was reduced with elevated CO2 concentration, exposure to UVB or UVA affected the process differentially, with the former inhibiting it and the latter enhancing it. UVA-induced stimulation of calcification was higher in the HC-grown cells at 15 and 20 ∘C, whereas at 24 ∘C observed enhancement was not significant. The calcification to photosynthesis ratio (Cal ∕ Pho ratio) was lower in the HC treatment, and increasing temperature also lowered the value. However, at 20 and 24 ∘C, exposure to UVR significantly increased the Cal ∕ Pho ratio, especially in HC-grown cells, by up to 100 %. This implies that UVR can counteract the negative effects of the “greenhouse” treatment on the Cal ∕ Pho ratio; hence, UVR may be a key stressor when considering the impacts of future greenhouse conditions on E. huxleyi.

Tong S., Hutchins D. A. & Gao K., 2019. Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation. Biogeosciences 16: 561-572. Article.

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