Archive for the 'Science' Category

Ocean acidification-induced restructuring of the plankton food web can influence the degradation of sinking particles

Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to alter plankton community structure in the future ocean. This, in turn, could change the composition of sinking organic matter and the efficiency of the biological carbon pump. So far, most OA experiments involving entire plankton communities have been conducted in meso- to eutrophic environments. However, recent studies suggest that OA effects may be more pronounced during prolonged periods of nutrient limitation. In this study, we investigated how OA-induced changes in low-nutrient adapted plankton communities of the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean may affect particulate organic matter (POM) standing stocks, POM fluxes, and POM stoichiometry. More specifically, we compared the elemental composition of POM suspended in the water column to the corresponding sinking material collected in sediment traps. Three weeks into the experiment, we simulated a natural upwelling event by adding nutrient-rich deep-water to all mesocosms, which induced a diatom-dominated phytoplankton bloom. Our results show that POM was more efficiently retained in the water column in the highest CO2 treatment levels (>800 μatm pCO2) subsequent to this bloom. We further observed significantly lower C:N and C:P ratios in post-bloom sedimented POM in the highest CO2 treatments, suggesting that degradation processes were less pronounced. This trend is most likely explained by differences in micro- and mesozooplankton abundance during the bloom and post-bloom phase. Overall, this study shows that OA can indirectly alter POM fluxes and stoichiometry in subtropical environments through changes in plankton community structure.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification-induced restructuring of the plankton food web can influence the degradation of sinking particles’

Rapid changes in anthropogenic carbon storage and ocean acidification in the intermediate layers of the Eurasian Arctic Ocean: 1996‐2015

The extended multiple linear regression (eMLR) technique is used to determine changes in anthropogenic carbon in the intermediate layers of the Eurasian Basin based on occupations from four cruises between 1996 and 2015. The results show a significant increase in basin‐wide anthropogenic carbon storage in the Nansen Basin (0.44‐0.73 ± 0.14 mol C m−2 yr−1) and the Amundsen Basin (0.63‐1.04 ± 0.09 mol C m−2 yr−1). Over the last two decades, inferred changes in ocean acidification (0.020‐0.055 pH units) and calcium carbonate desaturation (0.05‐0.18 units) are pronounced and rapid. These results, together with results from carbonate‐dynamic box model simulations and 129I tracer distribution simulations, suggest that the accumulation of anthropogenic carbon in the intermediate layers of the Eurasian Basin are consistent with increasing concentrations of anthropogenic carbon in source waters of Atlantic origin entering the Arctic Ocean followed by interior transport. The dissimilar distributions of anthropogenic carbon in the interior Nansen and Amundsen Basins are likely due to differences in the lateral ventilation of the intermediate layers by the return flows and ramifications of the boundary current along the topographic boundaries in the Eurasian Basin.

Continue reading ‘Rapid changes in anthropogenic carbon storage and ocean acidification in the intermediate layers of the Eurasian Arctic Ocean: 1996‐2015’

Metabolic responses to elevated pCO2 in the gills of the Pacific Oyster (Magallana gigas) using a GC-TOF-MS-based metabolomics approach

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), primarily from human fossil fuel combustion and cement production, are resulting in increasing absorption of CO2 by the oceans, which has led to a decline in ocean pH in a process known as ocean acidification (OA). There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the potential effect of OA on life-history traits of marine organisms. Consequently, gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF-MS) based metabolic profiling approach was applied to examine the metabolic responses of Magallana gigas to elevated pCO2 levels, under otherwise natural field conditions. CO2. Oysters were exposed natural environmental pCO2 (~625.40 μatm) and elevated pCO2 (~1432.94 μatm) levels for 30 days. Results indicated that 36 differential metabolites with variable importance in the projection (VIP) value greater than 1 and Student’s t-test lower than 0.05 were identified. Differential metabolites were mapped in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database to search for the related metabolic pathways. Pathway enrichment analysis indicates that alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism and glycine, serine and threonine metabolism were the most statistically enriched pathways. Further analysis suggested that elevated pCO2 disturb the TCA cycle via succinate accumulation and Magallana gigas most likely adjust their energy metabolic via alanine and GABA accumulation accordingly to cope with elevated pCO2. These findings provide an understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in modulating metabolism under elevated pCO2 levels associated with predicted OA.

Continue reading ‘Metabolic responses to elevated pCO2 in the gills of the Pacific Oyster (Magallana gigas) using a GC-TOF-MS-based metabolomics approach’

Dual role of DOM in a scenario of global change on photosynthesis and structure of coastal phytoplankton from the South Atlantic Ocean


• In a future scenario, attenuation by DOM outcompetes its physico-chemical role.
• Global change conditions will favor growth and photosynthesis of nanoplankton.
• Global change favors growth and photosynthesis of nano- as compared to microplankton.


We evaluated the dual role of DOM (i.e., as a source of inorganic nutrients and as an absorber of solar radiation) on a phytoplankton community of the western South Atlantic Ocean. Using a combination of microcosms and a cluster approach, we simulated the future conditions of some variables that are highly influenced by global change in the region. We increased nutrients (i.e., anthropogenic input) and dissolved organic matter (DOM), and we decreased the pH, to assess their combined impact on growth rates (μ), species composition/abundance and size structure, and photosynthesis (considering in this later also the effects of light quality i.e., with and without ultraviolet radiation). We simulated two Future conditions (Fut) where nutrients and pH were similarly manipulated, but in one the physical role of DOM (Futout) was assessed whereas in the other (Futin) the physico-chemical role was evaluated; these conditions were compared with a control (Present condition, Pres). The μ significantly increased in both Fut conditions as compared to the Pres, probably due to the nutrient addition and acidification in the former. The highest μ were observed in the Futout, due to the growth of nanoplanktonic flagellates and diatoms. Cells in the Futin were photosynthetically less efficient as compared to those of the Futout and Pres, but these physiological differences, also between samples with or without solar UVR observed at the beginning of the experiment, decreased with time hinting for an acclimation process. The knowledge of the relative importance of both roles of DOM is especially important for coastal areas that are expected to receive higher inputs and will be more acidified in the future.

Continue reading ‘Dual role of DOM in a scenario of global change on photosynthesis and structure of coastal phytoplankton from the South Atlantic Ocean’

Global change effects on seagrass ecosystem

Rising carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere will increase the average pCO2 level in the world oceans, which will have a knock-on effect on the marine ecosystem. Coastal seagrass communities one of the most productive marine ecosystems are predicted to benefit from the increase in CO2 levels, but long-term effects of elevated CO2 on seagrass communities are less understood. Population reconstruction techniques was used to investigate the population dynamics of Cymodocea nodosa meadows, exposed to long term elevated CO2 at volcanic seeps off Greece and Italy. Effect of elevated CO2 was noticed on the growth, morphometry, density, biomass and age structure at CO2 seeps. Above to below ground biomass ratio of C. nodosa were higher at CO2 seeps than at reference sites. The plastochrome interval were similar at all CO2 seeps. The shoot age and shoot longevity of plants were lower at seeps than reference sites. The present recruitment (sampled year) of the seagrass were higher than long-term average recruitment of the communities near the seeps. Carbon to nitrogen ratios (%DW) of C. nodosa were higher in leaves at seeps. Annual leaf production was higher near the seeps. This study suggests increased production of C. nodosa under elevated CO2 levels, but other co-factors such as nutrients, trace metal toxicity must also be taken into consideration while predicting effects of future CO2 concentrations. Volcanic CO2 seeps are now being used as natural analogues for ocean acidification studies although these areas can be affected by trace element input and may alter ecosystem responses to gradient in carbonate chemistry. Here Fe and a range of trace elements (Cd, Co, Cu, Hg, Mn, Pb, Ni and Zn) were analysed from sediments and from the roots, rhizomes and leaves of seagrass at six CO2 seeps and reference sites off Greece and Italy. There were higher metal levels in sediment and seagrasses at all CO2 seeps than reference sites. Sediment Quality Guideline Quotient, a commonly used pollution index, indicated that some of the metals (Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni) were in high enough concentrations to have adverse biological effects, such as Cu at Ischia site and Hg at Vulcano. Higher accumulation of elements from sediments in roots and leaves at CO2 seeps were found from Bio Sediment Accumulation Factor index. There were higher levels of Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn in leaves and rhizomes for P. oceanica and higher levels of Cd, Co, Cu, Fe and Zn in C. nodosa compartments at CO2 seeps. Fe and Mn were found with positive correlation within sediment-roots and sediment-rhizomes, whereas Cd, Co and Pb were found with positive correlation in compartments of C. nodosa. In P. oceanica positive correlation were only observed for Cd within sediment-roots and plant compartments. Low pH and ocean acidification increased the concentration of elements at CO2 seeps than reference sites. Thus, caution is needed, when using volcanic seep systems as analogue for the effects of rising CO2, as metals can reach levels that are toxic to seagrass, masking any potential benefits of increased levels of carbon dioxide for seagrass productivity. Net community production (NCP) and community respiration (CR) were measured under air exposed and CO2 enriched conditions for intertidal Z. noltei meadows and unvegetated sediment communities during emersion in summer and winter seasons. Community production and respiration were measured in-situ using benthic chambers. CO2 flux under air and CO2 enriched conditions were measured over a series of short term incubations (30min) using an infra-red gas analyser. Incident photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) was recorded during the incubations covering the daily and seasonal variation. Linear regression model was used to test the effects of irradiance on net community production. NCP of Z. noltei community were higher under CO2 enriched conditions than air exposed conditions in both summer and winter seasons. There was no effect of CO2 on the CR rate of Z. noltei community in summer season. NCP of sediment community were higher in summer season and winter season under CO2 enriched conditions. Sediment CR rates were higher in winter than summer season. The light compensation point of Z. noltei and sediment community were lower in both seasons under CO2 enriched conditions. Seasonal budget of community production was higher in Z. noltei than sediment communities. A clear effect of PAR was noticed on the net community production of both communities. Higher PAR intensities resulted in higher NCP under CO2 enriched conditions for both communities. CO2 enrichment will have a positive effect on the intertidal communities during emersion.

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A comparative metabolomics approach detects stress-specific responses during coral bleaching in soft corals

Chronic exposure to ocean acidification and elevated sea-surface temperatures pose significant stress to marine ecosystems. This in turn necessitates costly acclimation responses in corals in both the symbiont and host, with a re-organization of cell metabolism and structure. A large-scale untargeted metabolomics approach comprising gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS) was applied to profile the metabolite composition of the soft coral Sarcophyton ehrenbergi and its dinoflagellate symbiont. Metabolite profiling compared ambient conditions with response to simulated climate change stressors and with the sister species, S. glaucum. Among ca. 300 monitored metabolites, 13 metabolites were modulated. Incubation experiments providing four selected upregulated metabolites (alanine, GABA, nicotinic acid and proline) in the culturing water failed to subside the bleaching response at temperature-induced stress, despite their known ability to mitigate heat stress in plants or animals. Thus the results hint to metabolite accumulation (marker) during heat stress. This study provides the first detailed map of metabolic pathways transition in corals in response to different environmental stresses, accounting for the superior thermal tolerance of S ehrenbergi versus S. glaucum which can ultimately help maintain a viable symbiosis and mitigate against coral bleaching.

Continue reading ‘A comparative metabolomics approach detects stress-specific responses during coral bleaching in soft corals’

Bioeconomics of ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is an additional stressor to many fisheries of today, mostly those targeting calcifier species. Responsible assessment and management of these fisheries should then account for the effect on growth and mortality rates of marine species most sensible to changes in pH conditions. This new environmental stressor could have management implications when determining appropriate rates of exploitation aiming at fisheries biological and economic reference points.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book