Archive for the 'Science' Category

Biomonitoring acidification using marine gastropods

Highlights

• Data loggers offer limited coverage of acidification in marine ecosystems.

• Intertidal water pH was reflected in organismal attributes of gastropods.

• Shell surface erosion presents a clear estimate of corrosive water exposure.

• Gastropod biomonitoring can identify coastal areas of more or lesser acidification.

Abstract

Ocean acidification is mainly being monitored using data loggers which currently offer limited coverage of marine ecosystems. Here, we trial the use of gastropod shells to monitor acidification on rocky shores. Animals living in areas with highly variable pH (8.6–5.9) were compared with those from sites with more stable pH (8.6–7.9). Differences in site pH were reflected in size, shape and erosion patterns in Nerita chamaeleon and Planaxis sulcatus. Shells from acidified sites were shorter, more globular and more eroded, with both of these species proving to be good biomonitors. After an assessment of baseline weathering, shell erosion can be used to indicate the level of exposure of organisms to corrosive water, providing a tool for biomonitoring acidification in heterogeneous intertidal systems. A shell erosion ranking system was found to clearly discriminate between acidified and reference sites. Being spatially-extensive, this approach can identify coastal areas of greater or lesser acidification. Cost-effective and simple shell erosion ranking is amenable to citizen science projects and could serve as an early-warning-signal for natural or anthropogenic acidification of coastal waters.

Continue reading ‘Biomonitoring acidification using marine gastropods’

Limits and patterns of acid-base regulation during elevated environmental CO2 in fish

Highlights

• High aquatic CO2 may pose challenges to extra- and intra-cellular pH regulation in fish

• In this review we discuss the putative limits to extracellular pH regulation in fish and how some species use a strategy referred to as ‘preferential intracellular pH regulation’ to maintain pH homeostasis during exposure to CO2 tensions beyond their capacity for extracellular pH regulation.

Abstract

Aquatic CO2 tensions may exceed 30–60 Torr (ca. 30,000–79,000 μatm, respectively; hypercarbia) in some environments inducing severe acid-base challenges in fish. Typically, during exposure to hypercarbia blood pH (pHe) is initially reduced and then compensated in association with an increase in plasma HCO3– in exchange for Cl−. Typically, intracellular pH (pHi) is reduced and recovery is to some degree coupled to pHe recovery (coupled pH regulation). However, during acute hypercarbia, pHe recovery has been proposed to be limited by an “apparent upper bicarbonate threshold”, restricting complete pHe recovery to below 15 Torr PCO2. At PCO2 values beyond that which fish can compensate pHe, some fish are able to fully protect pHi despite large sustained reductions in pHe (preferential pHi regulation) and can tolerate PCO2 > 45 Torr. This review discusses pHe and pHi regulation during exposure to hypercarbia starting with modeling the capacity and theoretical limit to pHe compensation in 19 studies. Next, we discuss how fish compensate severe acute hypercarbia exposures beyond the putative limit of pHe compensation using preferential pHi regulation which has recently been observed to be common among fish subjected to severe hypercarbia. Finally, we consider the evolution of pH regulatory strategies in vertebrates, including how the presence of preferential pHi regulation in embryonic reptiles may indicate that it is an embryonic trait that is either lost or retained in adult vertebrates and may have served as an exaptation for evolutionary transitions during vertebrate evolution.

Continue reading ‘Limits and patterns of acid-base regulation during elevated environmental CO2 in fish’

Climate change and bivalve mass mortality in temperate regions

One of the fastest-growing global food sectors is the bivalve aquaculture industry. Bivalves particularly oysters, mussels and clams are important sources of animal protein (Tan and Ransangan 2016a, b). Bivalve aquaculture represents 14–16% of the average per capita animal protein for 1.5 billion people and supports over 200,000 livelihoods, mostly in developing countries (FAO 2018). Most of the bivalves produced around the world (89%) are from aquaculture (FAO 2016). To date, mollusc aquaculture have accounted for 21.42% (17.14 million tonnes) of the total aquaculture production, with Asia being the largest contributor (92.27%) (FAO 2018).

Continue reading ‘Climate change and bivalve mass mortality in temperate regions’

The analysis of dissolved inorganic carbon in liquid using a microfluidic conductivity sensor with membrane separation of CO2

Autonomous and continuous analysis of ocean chemistry, in particular dissolved inorganic carbon(DIC)concentration profiles with depth, are of great significance with regard to ocean acidification and climate change. However, the development of suitable miniature in-situ analysis systems is hampered by the size, cost and power requirements of traditional optical analysis instrumentation. Here we report a low-cost alternative approach based on CO2 separation and conductance measurement in microfluidic cells that could pave the way to integrated lab on chip systems for long-term ocean float deployment. Conductimetric determination of dissolved inorganic carbon concentration, in the seawater range of 1000 –3000 mol kg-1, has been achieved using a microfluidic thin film electrode conductivity cell and a membrane-based gas exchange cell. After transfer across the membrane, the eluted CO2 reacted in a NaOH carrier, was drawn through a conductivity cell with a <1L interelectrode volume, where the change in impedance versus time was measured. Precision values, obtained from relative standard deviation,were ~ 0.2% for peak height measurements over extended time periods. This compares favourably with precision values of ~ 0.25% obtained using a large C4D electrophoresis headstage with similar measurement volume. The required sample and reagent volumes amounted to ~500L in total due to the incorporation of a planar membrane into a small volume exchange cell. This compares very favourably with previous attempts at conductivity based DIC analysis where total volumes between 5000L and 10000L were required. The use of long membrane tubes and macroscopic wire electrodes is avoided by incorporating a planar membrane (PDMS) between sample and exchange cell and by sputter deposition of Ti/Au multilayer electrode patterns directly onto a patterned thermoplastic (PMMA) manifold. Future performance improvement will require addressing membrane chemical and mechanical stability as well as further volume reduction and component integration into a single manifold.

Continue reading ‘The analysis of dissolved inorganic carbon in liquid using a microfluidic conductivity sensor with membrane separation of CO2’

Mediterranean cold-water corals as paleoclimate archives

Scleractinian cold-water corals preserve in their aragonite skeleton information on the past changes of the physico-chemical properties of the seawater in which they grew. Such information is stored as geochemical signals, such as changes in trace elements concentration (B/Ca, Li/Mg, P/Ca, Sr/Ca, Ba/Ca, U/Ca) or stable and radiogenic isotopes composition (δ11B, δ13C, δ18O, 14C, εNd), that are usually converted into environmental parameters using empirical calibration equations. The aragonite skeleton of cold-water corals is sufficiently uranium-rich to be suitable for U-series dating, providing precise and accurate ages for the last 600–700 kyrs. This opens the possibility to obtain reconstructions of key oceanographic parameters for the intermediate and deep water masses at sub-decadal scale resolution for climatically-relevant time windows in the past. However, part of the geochemical signal incorporated into the coral skeleton is modulated by the physiology of the coral, which complicates the interpretation of the geochemical proxies. This “vital effect” needs to be taken into account and corrected for to obtain reliable reconstructions of past changes in seawater temperature, pH and nutrient content. On the other hand, these biologically-induced geochemical signals can be used to investigate the processes controlling coral biomineralisation and better understand the resilience of cold-water corals to environmental and climate changes.

In the recent years, Mediterranean cold-water corals have been targeted for geochemically-oriented studies and their trace elements and isotopes composition has contributed significantly to developing and understanding new and established coral proxies. Living in an environment characterised by relatively warm seawater temperatures (13–14 °C) and high pH (8.1), the Mediterranean cold-water corals provide the end-member geochemical composition useful to derive empirical calibration equations. In particular, the analysis of several specimens of the cold-water corals species Lophelia pertusa, Madrepora oculata and Desmophyllum dianthus live-collected in the western, central and eastern Mediterranean Sea, has contributed to the development of the Li/Mg thermometer, boron isotopes pH proxy and P/Ca nutrient proxy, as well as a better understanding of the neodymium isotopic composition of cold-water corals as a water mass tracer. A multi-proxy approach has been recently applied to precisely U/Th-dated cold-water corals fragments from coral-bearing sediment cores retrieved in the western and central Mediterranean Sea, showing large changes in the dynamics of the intermediate waters during the Holocene. Further investigations of fossil cold-water corals specimens from different Mediterranean locations will open new perspectives on the reconstruction of past changes in the physico-chemical properties of sub-surface waters and their potential role in modifying the Mediterranean climate.

Continue reading ‘Mediterranean cold-water corals as paleoclimate archives’

Ocean acidification has little effect on the biochemical composition of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

Owing to the hierarchical organization of biology, from genomes over transcriptomes and proteomes down to metabolomes, there is continuous debate about the extent to which data and interpretations derived from one level, e.g. the transcriptome, are in agreement with other levels, e.g. the metabolome. Here, we tested the effect of ocean acidification (OA; 400 vs. 1000 μatm CO2) and its modulation by light intensity (50 vs. 300 μmol photons m-2 s-1) on the biomass composition (represented by 75 key metabolites) of diploid and haploid life-cycle stages of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (RCC1216 and RCC1217) and compared these data with interpretations from previous physiological and gene expression screenings. The metabolite patterns showed minor responses to OA in both life-cycle stages. Whereas previous gene expression analyses suggested that the observed increased biomass buildup derived from lipid and carbohydrate storage, this dataset suggests that OA slightly increases overall biomass of cells, but does not significantly alter their metabolite composition. Generally, light was shown to be a more dominant driver of metabolite composition than OA, increasing the relative abundances of amino acids, mannitol and storage lipids, and shifting pigment contents to accommodate increased irradiance levels. The diploid stage was shown to contain vastly more osmolytes and mannitol than the haploid stage, which in turn had a higher relative content of amino acids, especially aromatic ones. Besides the differences between the investigated cell types and the general effects on biomass buildup, our analyses indicate that OA imposes only negligible effects on E. huxleyi´s biomass composition.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification has little effect on the biochemical composition of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi’

A case study: variability in the calcification response of Mediterranean cold-water corals to ocean acidification

The Mediterranean Sea has certain characteristics that make it especially sensitive and vulnerable to changes in atmospheric CO2 and its gradual acidification. Some of the organisms that may be the first to be threatened by this impact are the cold-water corals. The few studies carried out up to date with these organisms by simulating in aquarium the acidified conditions expected for the year 2100 revealed a high variability between and within species. This chapter shows this highly variable response in the calcification of four of the most abundant cold-water coral species in the Mediterranean to low-pH conditions and their potential ecological implications.

Continue reading ‘A case study: variability in the calcification response of Mediterranean cold-water corals to ocean acidification’


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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book