Global changes alter the successions of early colonizers of benthic surfaces

The successions of benthic communities over time are strongly influenced by the first colonizers, because surface associations are facilitated by modifications to the adhesive properties promoted by primary colonizers, such as bacteria, protozoans, diatoms, algal propagules, spores, and invertebrate larvae. Bacteria are often the first colonizers on marine submerged surfaces, both organic (e.g., algae, seagrasses and invertebrates) and inorganic. However, they are promptly followed by diatoms and other microorganisms. Consequently, diatoms may represent key elements in the determination of the colonization patterns, although the development of epiphytic communities is a dynamic process influenced by several factors, including nutrient availability, the ability to synthesize and secrete extracellular material, the competition among species and the influence of grazers on individual colonizers. The process may be drastically impacted by global warming and ocean acidification due to the increasing atmospheric levels of CO2. The impact of such global stressors on benthic ecosystems, especially on the primary microphytobenthic assemblages, is still poorly investigated, and may have deleterious consequences for the benthic successions. In this review, we analyze the adhesion patterns of marine microorganisms according to their surface features and the effects of global changes on critical pioneer colonizers, such as the benthic diatoms. The results are remarkable, as they highlight emergent concerns in ecosystem conservation and the prediction of benthic communities.

Somma E., Terlizzi A., Costantini M., Madeira M. & Zupo V., 2023. Global changes alter the successions of early colonizers of benthic surfaces. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 11(6): 1232. doi: 10.3390/jmse11061232. Article.

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