Particulate inorganic to organic carbon production as a predictor for coccolithophorid sensitivity to ongoing ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) can induce shifts in plankton community composition, with coccolithophores being mostly negatively impacted. This is likely to change particulate inorganic and organic carbon (PIC and POC, respectively) production, with impacts on the biological carbon pump. Hence, assessing and, most importantly, understanding species‐specific sensitivities of coccolithophores is paramount. In a multispecies comparison, spanning more than two orders of magnitude in terms of POC and PIC production rates, among Calcidiscus leptoporus, Coccolithus pelagicus subsp. braarudii, Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Scyphosphaera apsteinii, we found that cellular PIC : POC was a good predictor for a species’ OA sensitivity. This is likely related to the need for cellular pH homeostasis, which is challenged by the process of calcification producing protons internally, especially when seawater pH decreases in an OA scenario. With higher PIC : POC, species and strains being more sensitive to OA coccolithophores may shift toward less calcified varieties in the future.

Gafar N. A., Eyre B. D. & Schulz K. G., in press. Particulate inorganic to organic carbon production as a predictor for coccolithophorid sensitivity to ongoing ocean acidification. Limnology and Oceanography Letters. Article.

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