Acclimation and adaptation to elevated pCO2 increase arsenic resilience in marine diatoms

Arsenic pollution is a widespread threat to marine life, but the ongoing rise pCO2 levels is predicted to decrease bio-toxicity of arsenic. However, the effects of arsenic toxicity on marine primary producers under elevated pCO2 are not well characterized. Here, we studied the effects of arsenic toxicity in three globally distributed diatom species (Phaeodactylum tricornutumThalassiosira pseudonana, and Chaetoceros mulleri) after short-term acclimation (ST, 30 days), medium-term exposure (MT, 750 days), and long-term (LT, 1460 days) selection under ambient (400 µatm) and elevated (1000 and 2000 µatm) pCO2. We found that elevated pCO2 alleviated arsenic toxicity even after short acclimation times but the magnitude of the response decreased after mid and long-term adaptation. When fed with these elevated pCO2 selected diatoms, the scallop Patinopecten yessoensis had significantly lower arsenic content (3.26–52.83%). Transcriptomic and biochemical analysis indicated that the diatoms rapidly developed arsenic detoxification strategies, which included upregulation of transporters associated with shuttling harmful compounds out of the cell to reduce arsenic accumulation, and upregulation of proteins involved in synthesizing glutathione (GSH) to chelate intracellular arsenic to reduce arsenic toxicity. Thus, our results will expand our knowledge to fully understand the ecological risk of trace metal pollution under increasing human activity induced ocean acidification.

Xu D., Schaum C.-E., Li B, Chen Y., Tong S., Fu F.-X., Hutchins D. A., Zhang X., Fan X., Han W., Wang Y. & Ye N., in press. Acclimation and adaptation to elevated pCO2 increase arsenic resilience in marine diatoms. The ISME Journal. Article (subscription required).

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