Phosphorus enrichment masked the negative effects of ocean acidification on picophytoplankton and photosynthetic performance in the oligotrophic Indian Ocean

Highlights

  • High pCO2 and P interactively increased the abundances of Syn, Pro and PEuks.
  • Rising pCO2 alone decreased the abundances of Syn, Pro and PEuks.
  • Elevated pCO2 alone facilitated the NPQNSV process significantly.
  • There was a strong coupling of picophytoplankton and the charge separation rates.
  • P enrichment masked the negative effects of OA on picophytoplankton and photosynthesis.

Abstract

Dynamics of picophytoplankton and photosynthesis will be inevitably impacted by changing marine environment, such as ocean acidification and nutrient supply, but related studies are very scarce. Here we cultured the picophytoplankton-dominated surface water of the oligotrophic Eastern Indian Ocean (EIO; R/V Shiyan-3, 20 March to 18 May 2019) at two levels of pCO2 (400 and 1000 ppm) and phosphate (0.05 and 1.50 µM) to investigate the interactive effects of elevated pCO2 and phosphate (P) on the dynamics of picophytoplankton and photosynthetic properties. High pCO2 and P levels interactively increased the abundances of SynechococcusProchlorococcus and picoeukaryotes by 33%, 18%, and 21%, respectively, of which high P level had a major promoting effect. Conversely, rising pCO2 alone decreased their abundances by 9%, 32%, and 46%, respectively. For the photophysiological responses in relation to the combination of high pCO2 and P levels, there was an increase in the maximum (Fv/Fm) and effective (Fq‘/Fm‘) photochemical efficiency, the electron transfer rates (ETRRCII) and the charge separation rates (JVPSII, an indicator of primary production), but a decrease in the non-photochemical quenching (NPQNSV). Elevated pCO2 alone facilitated the NPQNSV process significantly, ultimately leading to reduced light use efficiency (e.g., Fv/Fm, Fq‘/Fm‘ and ETRRCII) and primary production (JVPSII). There was a strong coupling of picophytoplankton and JVPSII, suggesting the EIO primary productivity was potentially controlled by picophytoplankton. Overall, our results indicate that the negative effects caused by ocean acidification may be masked or outweighted by the role that P availability plays in regulating growth and metabolism in this oligotrophic ecosystem.

Wei Y., Zhao Y., Gui J. & Sun J., 2021. Phosphorus enrichment masked the negative effects of ocean acidification on picophytoplankton and photosynthetic performance in the oligotrophic Indian Ocean. Ecological Indicators 125: 107459. Article.

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