Diatoms are experiencing striking fluctuations in seawater carbonate chemistry in the natural marine environment, especially in coastal seawaters. Here, we show that the diatoms Thalassiosira weissflogii and Phaeodactylum tricornutum, which utilize different carbon acquisition mechanisms, respond differently to short-term changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. Our results showed that T. weissflogii showed significantly higher photosynthetic oxygen evolution rates than that of P. tricornutum at low levels of CO2 or HCO3−. This suggests that T. weissflogii had higher affinities for CO2 or HCO3− when their concentrations were not sufficient to support saturated growth and photosynthesis. While the activity of Rubisco in P. tricornutum positively correlated with carbonic anhydrases (CA), we observed negative relationship between Rubisco and CA activity in the diatom T. weissflogii. These contrasting physiological responses of diatoms with varied carbon acquisition mechanisms indicate different abilities to cope up with abrupt changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. We propose that the ability to respond to varying carbonate chemistry may act as one determinant of the diatom distributions and phytoplankton community structures.
Zeng X., Jin P., Zou D., Liu Y. & Xia J., in press. Responses of carbonic anhydrases and Rubisco to abrupt CO2 changes of seawater in two marine diatoms. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. Article (subscription required)