Impact de l’acidification et du réchauffement sur les communautés planctoniques de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent et la production de diméthylsulfure (in French)

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased since the industrial revolution, leading to modifications in atmospheric CO2 content and an increase in oceanic CO2 partial pressures (pCO2). The uptake of CO2 by the oceans has resulted in a lowering of surface water pH, corresponding to an increase in the acidity of the oceans by ~30 % compared with pre-industrial times. Furthermore, climate change resulting from the accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is responsible for the observed warming of sea surface temperatures since the mid 20th century. The fate of planktonic communities in the face of these changes in the marine environment over the next century remains uncertain. Even less understood are the possible interactions of acidification and warming on the production of dimethylsulfide (DMS), a sulfur-containing gas produced by planktonic communities and involved in climate regulation. The aim of this thesis is to determine the impact of heightened pCO2 on the development of the phytoplanktonic blooms in the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary (LSLE), and their production of DMS, as well as to evaluate how concomitant warming could modulate the effects of acidification. Two intricate experiments were carried out during this study. First, a microcosm experiment (~20 L) was conducted in the summer of 2013 to assess the effects of pCO2 on the development of the LSLE spring diatom bloom, paying special attention to the microbial processes governing the production of DMS. Second, a multifactorial mesocosm experiment (~2600 L) was carried out in the fall of 2014 to investigate the combined effects of pCO2 and temperature on the development of the fall bloom in the LSLE and the production of DMS. Results from our microcosm experiment show that the blooming phytoplankton community of the LSLE during spring is resistant to pCO2 increases superior to the expected values for 2100. This resistance likely reflects its adaptation to the estuarine setting, an environment known for rapid and intense fluctuations of pCO2. This first experiment has also highlighted a reduction of the average concentrations of DMS by 15 and 40 % in planktonic assemblages respectively subjected to pCO2 of ~1850 μatm and ~2700 μatm compared to the control (~775 μatm). Parallel incubations have shown, using 35S-DMSPd, that the negative effect of acidification on DMS mostly stemmed from a decrease in the conversion efficiency of DMSP to DMS by bacteria. The second experiment has also highlighted a strong resistance of the diatom Skeletonema costatum to a wide range of pH (~8.0–7.2), and corresponding pCO2 (~90–3000 μatm). In this study, a warming of 5 °C accelerated the development and decline of the bloom, but did not affect the integrated primary production over the duration of the experiment. As in the first experiment, heightened pCO2 resulted in a decrease of average concentrations of DMS of ~66 % in the most acidified mesocosms compared to the least acidified mesocosms at in situ temperature (10 °C). However, the negative effect of an increase in pCO2 on the net production of DMS could be mitigated by a warming of surface waters. Indeed, my results reveal that the net production of DMS was higher at 15 °C compared to 10 °C over the whole pCO2 gradient in our mesocosm study. These novel results suggest that warming of surface waters could mitigate, at least partly, the negative effect of acidification on DMS net production in the LSLE and perhaps in the world’s oceans.

Bénard R., 2018. Impact de l’acidification et du réchauffement sur les communautés planctoniques de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent et la production de diméthylsulfure. PhD thesis, Laval University. Thesis.

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