Zinc toxicity alters the photosynthetic response of red alga Pyropia yezoensis to ocean acidification

The globally changing environmental climate, ocean acidification, and heavy metal pollution are of increasing concern. However, studies investigating the combined effects of ocean acidification and zinc (Zn) exposure on macroalgae are very scarce. In this study, the photosynthetic performance of the red alga Pyropia yezoensis was examined under three different concentrations of Zn (control, 25 (medium), and 100 (high) μg L−1) and pCO2 (400 (ambient) and 1000 (high) μatm). The results showed that higher Zn concentrations resulted in increased toxicity for P. yezoensis, while ocean acidification alleviated this negative effect. Ocean acidification increased the relative growth rate of thalli under both medium and high Zn concentrations. The net photosynthetic rate and respiratory rate of thalli also significantly increased in response under ocean acidification, when thalli were cultured under both medium and high Zn concentrations. Malondialdehyde levels decreased under ocean acidification, compared to ambient CO2 conditions and either medium or high Zn concentrations. The activity of superoxide dismutase increased in response to high Zn concentrations, which was particularly apparent at high Zn concentration and ocean acidification. Immunoblotting tests showed that ocean acidification increased D1 removal, with increasing expression levels of the PSII reaction center proteins D2, CP47, and RbcL. These results suggested that ocean acidification could alleviate the damage caused by Zn exposure, thus providing a theoretical basis for a better prediction of the impact of global climate change and heavy metal contamination on marine primary productivity in the form of seaweeds.

Ma J., Wang W., Liu X., Wang Z., Gao G., Wu H., Li X., Xu J., in press. Zinc toxicity alters the photosynthetic response of red alga Pyropia yezoensis to ocean acidification. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. Article (subscription required).

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