Posts Tagged 'adaptation'

Coral calcification mechanisms facilitate adaptive responses to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) is a pressing threat to reef-building corals, but it remains poorly understood how coral calcification is inhibited by OA and whether corals could acclimatize and/or adapt to OA. Using a novel geochemical approach, we reconstructed the carbonate chemistry of the calcifying fluid in two coral species using both a pH and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) proxy (δ11B and B/Ca, respectively). To address the potential for adaptive responses, both species were collected from two sites spanning a natural gradient in seawater pH and temperature, and then subjected to three pHT levels (8.04, 7.88, 7.71) crossed by two temperatures (control, +1.5°C) for 14 weeks. Corals from the site with naturally lower seawater pH calcified faster and maintained growth better under simulated OA than corals from the higher-pH site. This ability was consistently linked to higher pH yet lower DIC values in the calcifying fluid, suggesting that these differences are the result of long-term acclimatization and/or local adaptation to naturally lower seawater pH. Nevertheless, all corals elevated both pH and DIC significantly over seawater values, even under OA. This implies that high pH upregulation combined with moderate levels of DIC upregulation promote resistance and adaptive responses of coral calcification to OA.

Continue reading ‘Coral calcification mechanisms facilitate adaptive responses to ocean acidification’

Transcriptomic profiling of adaptive responses to ocean acidification

Some populations of marine organisms appear to have inherent tolerance or the capacity for acclimation to stressful environmental conditions, including those associated with climate change. Sydney rock oysters from the B2 breeding line exhibit resilience to ocean acidification (OA) at the physiological level. To understand the molecular basis of this physiological resilience, we analysed the gill transcriptome of B2 oysters that had been exposed to near-future projected ocean pH over two consecutive generations. Our results suggest that the distinctive performance of B2 oysters in the face of OA is mediated by the selective expression of genes involved in multiple cellular processes. Subsequent high-throughput qPCR revealed that some of these transcriptional changes are exclusive to B2 oysters and so may be associated with their resilience to OA. The intracellular processes mediated by the differentially abundant genes primarily involve control of the cell cycle and maintenance of cellular homeostasis. These changes may enable B2 oysters to prevent apoptosis resulting from oxidative damage or to alleviate the effects of apoptosis through regulation of the cell cycle. Comparative analysis of the OA conditioning effects across sequential generations supported the contention that B2 and wild-type oysters have different trajectories of changing gene expression and responding to OA. Our findings reveal the broad set of molecular processes underlying transgenerational conditioning and potential resilience to OA in a marine calcifier. Identifying the mechanisms of stress resilience can uncover the intracellular basis for these organisms to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing ocean.

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Potential for maternal effects on offspring CO2 sensitivities in the Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia)


• Offspring produced by different females varied in their sensitivity to high CO2 conditions.
• Specific fatty acids in eggs were correlated to the log-transformed CO2 response ratio of embryo survival and hatch length.
• Maternal provisioning might be an additional determinant of CO2 sensitivity in fish early life stages.


For marine fish, the influence of maternal provisioning on offspring sensitivity to high carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions remains unknown. We separately reared offspring obtained from five wild-caught Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia) females from fertilization to 16 days post hatch under contrasting CO2 conditions (ambient: ~ 400 μatm, acidified: ~ 2,300 μatm), testing whether average survival during the embryo and larval stage, hatch length, final length, and growth rates were affected by CO2, female identity, or their interaction. Average trait responses did not significantly differ between treatments (CO2 or female identity), however, significant CO2 × female identity interactions indicated that females produced offspring with different average CO2 sensitivities. We then examined whether differential egg provisioning with fatty acids (FA) may partially explain the observed differences in offspring CO2 sensitivities. Concentrations of 27 FAs in the unfertilized eggs of each female were measured. Cumulative absolute FA levels were negatively related to hatch length and to the log-transformed CO2 response ratio of hatch length. Eggs with lower concentrations of 20:1n9 and 22:5n3 resulted in offspring where embryo survival was negatively impacted by high CO2. Eggs with higher concentrations of 18:3n3, 18:4n3, and 22:6n3 produced shorter offspring at hatching under high CO2 conditions. These results indicate that maternal provisioning might be an additional determinant of CO2 sensitivity in fish early life stages. Acidification experiments should therefore utilize large numbers of parents from different natural conditions and, where possible, track heritage.

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Effects of pH and temperature on egg hatching success of the marine planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus

Calanus finmarchicus is a predominant planktonic copepod in the northern North Atlantic Ocean, where it is a fundamental link in the transfer of energy from phytoplankton to fish. Here, we investigate whether ocean acidification at present-day and future levels will cause a significant decrease in the egg hatching success (HS) of C. finmarchicus in the Gulf of Maine. Eggs spawned by female C. finmarchicus collected from the coastal Gulf of Maine were incubated in seawater acidified by addition of CO2 to selected pH levels at 3.5 °C (in a single experiment), 6 °C and 14–15 °C (in multiple experiments). HS was unaffected by pH between 6.58 and 8.0 at 3.5 and 6 °C, and between 7.1 and 8.0 when incubated at 15 °C. A significant interactive effect between temperature and pH on HS was found using a two-way ANOVA of the data from experiments at 6 °C and 14–15 °C, temperatures that are experienced in summer in the Gulf of Maine. HS of eggs spawned from C. finmarchicus females immediately after capture from a coastal station was significantly reduced at pH ≤ 7.0 when incubated at 14–15 °C, although HS of eggs collected from well-fed females in the laboratory in water from the Damariscotta Estuary was not significantly reduced at pH levels as low as 6.6 at 15 °C. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that parental history and possibly maternal provisioning can influence capability of eggs to adjust to lower pH environments. While an interaction between pH and temperatures experienced by C. finmarchicus at the southern edge of its biogeographic range was observed, the pH at which this interaction occurred is substantially lower than pH levels predicted for the surface ocean over the surface ocean.

Continue reading ‘Effects of pH and temperature on egg hatching success of the marine planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus’

Reproductive and trans-generational effect of ocean acidification and warming on the coral Stylophora pistillata in the Gulf of Aqaba

Global warming is threatening 75 % of the world’s coral reefs. The reproduction of corals is a driver for the development of the whole reef ecosystem. Then, it is essential to better understand the transgenerational mechanisms in the response of parents and offspring to elevated temperature and lowered pH. Colonies of Stylophora pistillata from the Gulf of Aqaba during their reproduction period were exposed to a 4°C increase in temperature and a pH of 7.6 for 36 days, then a 6°C increase for six days. Planulae were counted on seven consecutive nights, two times during the experiment period. Physiological characteristics of adult and planulae were assessed on four and five sampling points respectively, as well as the behaviour of the planulae through their incubation. Results show no effect of OWA on the reproduction, parents, and planulae physiology. They suggest that the natural resistance of corals in the Gulf of Aqaba is transmitted from parent to offspring. Data on planulae quantity, survival, settlement, and metabolism provides additional and useful information to understand the biology of this coral, specially in its early-life stage. This study’s outcome is adding evidences of the future development of corals reefs in this region, unlike several other tropical reefs in the world.

Continue reading ‘Reproductive and trans-generational effect of ocean acidification and warming on the coral Stylophora pistillata in the Gulf of Aqaba’

Systems biology and the seagrass paradox: adaptation, acclimation, and survival of marine angiosperms in a changing ocean climate

Predicting adaptive fitness to any environment requires mechanistic understanding of environmental influence on metabolic networks that control energy assimilation, growth, and reproduction. Although the potential impacts of environment on gene products are myriad, important phenotypic responses are often regulated by a few key points in metabolic networks where externally supplied resources or physiological reaction substrates limit reaction kinetics. Environmental resources commonly limiting seagrass productivity, survival, and growth include light and CO2 availability that control carbon assimilation and sucrose formation. Phosphate availability can also be important in oligotrophic tropical environments, particularly in the presence of carbonate sediments. Temperature and macronutrient oversupply (eutrophication) can act as confounding stressors, particularly in temperate environments. Photoacclimation can be regulated by electron transport pathways residing in the chloroplast stroma, but stress responses are often manifest by the expression of generalized stress response proteins, both of which appear to be affected by temperature and CO2 availability. A systems approach is employed to explore (1) the responses of seagrasses to the combined impacts of environmental limiting factors that control fundamental physiological processes leading to whole-plant performance; (2) sediment diagenetic processes that facilitate nutrient remineralization, carbon sequestration, and toxin neutralization; (3) interactions with other organisms induced by trophic cascades; and (4) impacts of human-induced climate change that affect system dynamics at numerous points in the network.

Continue reading ‘Systems biology and the seagrass paradox: adaptation, acclimation, and survival of marine angiosperms in a changing ocean climate’

Transcriptomic response of the Antarctic pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA), a change in ocean chemistry due to the absorption of atmospheric CO2 into surface oceans, challenges biogenic calcification in many marine organisms. Ocean acidification is expected to rapidly progress in polar seas, with regions of the Southern Ocean expected to experience severe OA within decades. Biologically, the consequences of OA challenge calcification processes and impose an energetic cost.

In order to better characterize the response of a polar calcifier to conditions of OA, we assessed differential gene expression in the Antarctic pteropod, Limacina helicina antarctica. Experimental levels of pCO2 were chosen to create both contemporary pH conditions, and to mimic future pH expected in OA scenarios. Significant changes in the transcriptome were observed when juvenile L. h. antarctica were acclimated for 21 days to low-pH (7.71), mid-pH (7.9) or high-pH (8.13) conditions. Differential gene expression analysis of individuals maintained in the low-pH treatment identified down-regulation of genes involved in cytoskeletal structure, lipid transport, and metabolism. High pH exposure led to increased expression and enrichment for genes involved in shell formation, calcium ion binding, and DNA binding. Significant differential gene expression was observed in four major cellular and physiological processes: shell formation, the cellular stress response, metabolism, and neural function. Across these functional groups, exposure to conditions that mimic ocean acidification led to rapid suppression of gene expression.

Results of this study demonstrated that the transcriptome of the juvenile pteropod, L. h. antarctica, was dynamic and changed in response to different levels of pCO2. In a global change context, exposure of L. h. antarctica to the low pH, high pCO2 OA conditions resulted in a suppression of transcripts for genes involved in key physiological processes: calcification, metabolism, and the cellular stress response. The transcriptomic response at both acute and longer-term acclimation time frames indicated that contemporary L. h. antarctica may not have the physiological plasticity necessary for adaptation to OA conditions expected in future decades. Lastly, the differential gene expression results further support the role of shelled pteropods such as L. h. antarctica as sentinel organisms for the impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Transcriptomic response of the Antarctic pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica to ocean acidification’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book