Ocean acidification modifies biomolecule composition in organic matter through complex interactions

The main source of marine organic carbon (OC) is autotrophic production, while heterotrophic degradation is its main sink. Increased anthropogenic CO2 release leads to ocean acidification and is expected to alter phytoplankton community composition, primary production rates and bacterial degradation processes in the coming decades with potential consequences for dissolved and particulate OC concentration and composition. Here we investigate effects of increased pCO2 on dissolved and particulate amino acids (AA) and carbohydrates (CHO), in arctic and sub-arctic planktonic communities in two large-scale mesocosm experiments. Dissolved AA concentrations responded to pCO2/pH changes during early bloom phases but did not show many changes after nutrient addition. A clear positive correlation in particulate AA was detected in post-bloom phases. Direct responses in CHO concentrations to changing pCO2/pH were lacking, suggesting that observed changes were rather indirect and dependent on the phytoplankton community composition. The relative composition of AA and CHO did not change as a direct consequence of pCO2 increase. Changes between bloom phases were associated with the prevailing nutrient status. Our results suggest that biomolecule composition will change under future ocean conditions but responses are highly complex, and seem to be dependent on many factors including bloom phase and sampling site.

Grosse J., Endres S. & Engel A., 2020. Ocean acidification modifies biomolecule composition in organic matter through complex interactions. Scientific Reports 10: 20599. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77645-3. Article.

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