Recent research indicates that synchronicity of sexual reproduction in coral spawning events is breaking down, leading to aging populations and decreased recruitment success. In this perspective, we develop a hypothesis that this phenomenon could be caused by ongoing ocean acidification (OA). We hypothesize, that the underlying physiological machinery could be the carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM). The endosymbiotic zooxanthellae of corals could use this mechanism to sense calm water motion states in a comparable way to that known from macroalgae. In macroalgae, it is well-established that dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) acts as the trigger for signaling low water motion. Hence, evolutionarily developed signals of low water motion, suited for gamete-release, may be misleading in the future, potentially favoring opportunistic species in a broad range of marine organisms.
Olischläger M & Wild C., in press. How does the sexual reproduction of marine life respond to ocean acidification? Diversity. Article.