Climate change influences chlorophylls and bacteriochlorophylls metabolism in hypersaline microbial mat


  • Higher chlorophyll derivatives concentration on acidification treatment
  • Lower chlorophyll a concentration on acidification treatment
  • Production of bound carbohydrates EPS on acidification treatment
  • No impact of warming and acidification on mat photosynthetic efficiency


This study aimed to determine the effect of the climatic change on the phototrophic communities of hypersaline microbial mats. Ocean acidification and warming were simulated alone and together on microbial mats placed into mesocosms. As expected, the temperature in the warming treatments increased by 4 °C from the initial temperature. Surprisingly, no significance difference was observed between the water pH of the different treatments despite of a decrease of 0.4 unit pH in the water reserves of acidification treatments. The salinity increased on the warming treatments and the dissolved oxygen concentration increased and was higher on the acidification treatments. A total of 37 pigments were identified belonging to chlorophylls, carotenes and xanthophylls families. The higher abundance of unknown chlorophyll molecules called chlorophyll derivatives was observed in the acidification alone treatment with a decrease in chlorophyll a abundance. This change in pigmentary composition was accompanied by a higher production of bound extracellular carbohydrates but didn’t affect the photosynthetic efficiency of the microbial mats. A careful analysis of the absorption properties of these molecules indicated that these chlorophyll derivatives were likely bacteriochlorophyll c contained in the chlorosomes of green anoxygenic phototroph bacteria. Two hypotheses can be drawn from these results: 1/ the phototrophic communities of the microbial mats were modified under acidification treatment leading to a higher relative abundance of green anoxygenic bacteria, or 2/ the highest availability of CO2 in the environment has led to a shift in the metabolism of green anoxygenic bacteria being more competitive than other phototrophs.

Mazière C., Bodo M., Perdrau M. A., Cravo-Laureau C., Duran R., Dupuy C. & Hubas C., 2021. Climate change influences chlorophylls and bacteriochlorophylls metabolism in hypersaline microbial mat. Science of the Total Environment 802: 149787. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149787. Article (subscription required).

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