Ocean acidification alters the responses of invertebrates to wound-activated infochemicals produced by epiphytes of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica

Highlights

• First time evaluation of the effect of infochemicals produced at two pH by the epiphytic community and by selected diatoms.

• O.A. alters the fine-tuned chemical cross-talks between seagrass epiphytes and associated invertebrates.

• Algae play their roles at different concentrations and convey different messages to associated animal communities.

• O.A. has consequences on the structure of associated communities and food webs of seagrass ecosystems.

Abstract

Ocean acidification (OA) influences the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by seagrass leaves and their associated epiphytes. We hypothesize that the perception of “odour” produced by seagrass leaf epiphytes will change with seawater acidification, affecting the behaviour of seagrass-associated invertebrates. To test this hypothesis, we collected epiphytes from leaves of Posidonia oceanica growing at two pH conditions (7.7 and 8.1) and identified the most abundant genera of diatoms. We tested the VOCs produced at pH 8.1 by the epiphytic communities in toto, as well as those produced by selected diatoms, on various invertebrates. A complex set of species-specific and concentration-dependent chemotactic reactions was recorded, according to the pH of seawater. In particular, VOCs produced by individual diatoms triggered contrasting reactions in invertebrates, depending on the pH. The perception of epiphyte VOCs is likely to vary due to alteration of species ability to perceive and/or interpret chemical cues as infochemicals or due to changes in the structure of VOCs themselves. Thus, OA alters the fine-tuned chemical cross-talks between seagrass epiphytes and associated invertebrates, with potential consequences for the structure of communities and food webs of seagrass ecosystems.

Mutalipassi M., Fink P., Maibam C., Porzioa L., Buia M. C., Gambi M. C., Patti F. P., Scipione M. B., Lorenti M. & Zupo V., 2020. Ocean acidification alters the responses of invertebrates to wound-activated infochemicals produced by epiphytes of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 530-531: 151435. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2020.151435. Article (subscription required).


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