Environmental stability impacts the differential sensitivity of marine microbiomes to increases in temperature and acidity

Ambient conditions shape microbiome responses to both short- and long-duration environment changes through processes including physiological acclimation, compositional shifts, and evolution. Thus, we predict that microbial communities inhabiting locations with larger diel, episodic, and annual variability in temperature and pH should be less sensitive to shifts in these climate-change factors. To test this hypothesis, we compared responses of surface ocean microbes from more variable (nearshore) and more constant (offshore) sites to short-term factorial warming (+3 °C) and/or acidification (pH −0.3). In all cases, warming alone significantly altered microbial community composition, while acidification had a minor influence. Compared with nearshore microbes, warmed offshore microbiomes exhibited larger changes in community composition, phylotype abundances, respiration rates, and metatranscriptomes, suggesting increased sensitivity of microbes from the less-variable environment. Moreover, while warming increased respiration rates, offshore metatranscriptomes yielded evidence of thermal stress responses in protein synthesis, heat shock proteins, and regulation. Future oceans with warmer waters may enhance overall metabolic and biogeochemical rates, but they will host altered microbial communities, especially in relatively thermally stable regions of the oceans.

Wang Z., Tsementzi D., Williams T. C., Juarez D. L., Blinebry S. K., Garcia N. S., Sienkiewicz B. K., Konstantinidis K. T., Johnson Z. I. & Hunt D. E., in press. Environmental stability impacts the differential sensitivity of marine microbiomes to increases in temperature and acidity. ISME J. Article (subscription required).

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