Posts Tagged 'adaptation'

Warmer and more acidic conditions enhance performance of an endemic low shore gastropod

Changing ocean temperatures are predicted to challenge marine organisms, especially when combined with other factors, such as ocean acidification. Acclimation, as a form of phenotypic plasticity, can however, moderate the consequences of changing environments for biota. Our understanding of how altered temperature and acidification together influence species acclimation responses is, however, limited compared to responses to single stressors. This study investigated how temperature and acidification affected the thermal tolerance and righting speed of the Girdled Dogwhelk, Trochia cingulata (Linnaeus, 1771). Whelks were acclimated for two weeks to combinations of three temperatures (11°C: cold, 13°C: moderate and 15°C: warm) and two pH regimes (8.0: moderate and 7.5: acidic). We measured the temperature sensitivity of righting response by generating thermal performance curves from individual data collected at seven test temperatures and determined critical thermal minima (CTmin) and maxima (CTmax). We found that T. cingulata has a broad basal thermal tolerance range (∼38°C) and after acclimation to the warm temperature regime, both the optimal temperature for maximum righting speed and CTmax increased. Contrary to predictions, acidification did not narrow this population’s thermal tolerance but increased CTmax. These plastic responses are likely driven by the predictable exposure to temperature extremes measured in the field which originate from the local tidal cycle and the periodic acidification associated with ocean upwelling in the region. This acclimation ability suggests that T. cingulata has at least some capacity to buffer the thermal changes and increased acidification predicted to occur with climate change.

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Physiological and molecular insights into adaptive evolution of the marine model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum under low-pH stress

The direct use of industrial flue gas in microalgae production is desired for mitigating CO2 emissions, but the low pH resulting from the inflow of acidic gases (mainly CO2, NOx, and SOx) imposes detrimental effects on microalgal growth and is considered the main technical challenge for simultaneous biomass production and CO2 sequestration. In this study, we investigated the adaptive responses of the model marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum to acidic stress at pH 6.0. Gradual changes in the ratio of morphotypes, chlorophyll content, and photosynthetic efficiency were observed as a result of adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) under constant acidic stress. The evolved strains showed a significant increase in growth rate in acidic conditions after ALE, and phenotypic characterization demonstrated a stable trait of acid tolerance with an average increase in growth by 110.4%, 46.1%, and 27.5% at pH 5.5, 6.0, and 6.5, respectively compared with the parental wild-type strain. Furthermore, RNA sequencing and whole-genome re-sequencing analyses revealed that core pathways, including photosynthesis, pH regulation/ion transport, and carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism, were upregulated across all three evolved strains, though they exhibited different evolutionary trajectories. This study demonstrated the feasibility of recovering photosynthetic capability after acidic stress in the marine diatom P. tricornutum through ALE and provided molecular data to reveal essential alterations in genetic regulations that could enable cells to tolerate low environmental pH.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and molecular insights into adaptive evolution of the marine model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum under low-pH stress’

Cumulative impact of anthropogenic drivers and climatic change on structure and function of estuarine and coastal ecosystems: disturbance, resistance, resilience responses and assessment

Estuarine and coastal ecosystems at the interface between land and sea are complex. An assessment of their ecological status is difficult due to natural continuous disturbances, the presence of a mosaic of abiotic conditions from freshwater to marine waters, and increasing human activities since the middle of the 19th century. Climate Change (CC) adversely affects these ecosystems by altering abiotic factors: temperature, salinity, pH (acidification), sea level rise, and an increasing number of stressors interacting in these ecosystems. Nevertheless, in spite of these cumulative pressures, the ecosystems exhibit high resistance to stressors and high resilience after a stressor is reduced or eliminated. After a period of decrease of the intertidal surface and hydraulic annexes as well as water quality degradation and its improvement, it is now time to restore estuaries and recover their original functions. This chapter examines the effects of cumulative impacts of anthropogenic drivers and climatic change on the structure and function of estuarine and coastal marine ecosystems to illustrate the disturbance, resistance, and resilience responses of these transitional complex ecosystems.

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How ocean warming and acidification affect the life cycle of six worldwide commercialised sea urchin species: a review

Ongoing global changes are expected to affect the worldwide production of many fisheries and aquaculture systems. Because invertebrates represent a relevant industry, it is crucial to anticipate challenges that are resulting from the current environmental alterations. In this review, we rely on the estimated physiological limits of six commercialised species of sea urchins (Loxechinus albusMesocentrotus franciscanusParacentrotus lividus, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensisStrongylocentrotus intermedius and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) to define the vulnerability (or resilience) of their populations facing ocean warming and acidification (OW&A). Considering that coastal systems do not change uniformly and that the populations’ response to stressors varies depending on their origin, we investigate the effects of OW&A by including studies that estimate future environmental mutations within their distribution areas. Cross-referencing 79 studies, we find that several sea urchin populations are potentially vulnerable to the predicted OW&A as environmental conditions in certain regions are expected to shift beyond their estimated physiological limit of tolerance. Specifically, while upper thermal thresholds seem to be respected for L. albus along the SW American coast, M. franciscanus and S. purpuratus southern populations appear to be vulnerable in NW America. Moreover, as a result of the strong warming expected in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, the local productivity of S. droebachiensis is also potentially largely affected. Finally, populations of S. intermedius and P. lividus found in northern Japan and eastern Mediterranean respectively, are supposed to decline due to large environmental changes brought about by OW&A. This review highlights the status and the potential of local adaptation of a number of sea urchin populations in response to changing environmental conditions, revealing possible future challenges for various local fishing industries.

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Long-term adaptation to elevated temperature but not CO2 alleviates the negative effects of ultraviolet-B radiation in a marine diatom

Multifaceted changes in marine environments as a result of anthropogenic activities are likely to have a compounding impact on the physiology of marine phytoplankton. Most studies on the combined effects of rising pCO2sea surface temperature, and UVB radiation on marine phytoplankton were only conducted in the short-term, which does not allow to test the adaptive capacity of phytoplankton and associated potential trade-offs. Here, we investigated populations of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum that were long-term (∼3.5 years, ∼3000 generations) adapted to elevated CO2 and/or elevated temperatures, and their physiological responses to short-term (∼2 weeks) exposure of two levels of ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation. Our results showed that while elevated UVB radiation showed predominantly negative effects on the physiological performance of P. tricornutum regardless of adaptation regimes. Elevated temperature alleviated these effects on most of the measured physiological parameters (e.g., photosynthesis). We also found that elevated CO2 can modulate these antagonistic interactions, and conclude that long-term adaptation to sea surface warming and rising CO2 may alter this diatom’s sensitivity to elevated UVB radiation in the environment. Our study provides new insights into marine phytoplankton’s long-term responses to the interplay of multiple environmental changes driven by climate change.

Continue reading ‘Long-term adaptation to elevated temperature but not CO2 alleviates the negative effects of ultraviolet-B radiation in a marine diatom’

Coral adaptive capacity insufficient to halt global transition of coral reefs into net erosion under climate change

Projecting the effects of climate change on net reef calcium carbonate production is critical to understanding the future impacts on ecosystem function, but prior estimates have not included corals’ natural adaptive capacity to such change. Here we estimate how the ability of symbionts to evolve tolerance to heat stress, or for coral hosts to shuffle to favourable symbionts, and their combination, may influence responses to the combined impacts of ocean warming and acidification under three representative concentration pathway (RCP) emissions scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). We show that symbiont evolution and shuffling, both individually and when combined, favours persistent positive net reef calcium carbonate production. However, our projections of future net calcium carbonate production (NCCP) under climate change vary both spatially and by RCP. For example, 19%–35% of modelled coral reefs are still projected to have net positive NCCP by 2050 if symbionts can evolve increased thermal tolerance, depending on the RCP. Without symbiont adaptive capacity, the number of coral reefs with positive NCCP drops to 9%–13% by 2050. Accounting for both symbiont evolution and shuffling, we project median positive NCPP of coral reefs will still occur under low greenhouse emissions (RCP2.6) in the Indian Ocean, and even under moderate emissions (RCP4.5) in the Pacific Ocean. However, adaptive capacity will be insufficient to halt the transition of coral reefs globally into erosion by 2050 under severe emissions scenarios (RCP8.5).

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Paris Agreement could prevent regional mass extinctions of coral species

Coral reef ecosystems are expected to undergo significant declines over the coming decades as oceans become warmer and more acidic. We investigate the environmental tolerances of over 650 Scleractinian coral species based on the conditions found within their present-day ranges and in areas where they are currently absent but could potentially reach via larval dispersal. These “environmental envelopes” and connectivity constraints are then used to develop global forecasts for potential coral species richness under two emission scenarios, representing the Paris Agreement target (“SSP1-2.6”) and high levels of emissions (“SSP5-8.5”). Although we do not directly predict coral mortality or adaptation, the projected changes to environmental suitability suggest considerable potential declines in coral species richness for the majority of the world’s tropical coral reefs, with a net loss in average local richness of 73% (Paris Agreement) to 91% (High Emissions) by 2080-2090 and particularly large declines across sites in the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, Western Indian Ocean and Caribbean. However, at the regional scale, we find that environmental suitability for the majority of coral species can be largely maintained under the Paris Agreement target, with 0-30% potential net species lost in most regions (increasing to 50% for the Great Barrier Reef) as opposed to 80-90% losses in most areas under High Emissions. Projections for sub-tropical areas suggest that range expansion will give rise to coral reefs with low species richness (typically 10-20 coral species per region) and will not meaningfully offset declines in the tropics. This work represents the first global projection of coral species richness under oceanic warming and acidification. Our results highlight the critical importance of mitigating climate change to avoid potentially massive extinctions of coral species.

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Increased food resources help eastern oyster mitigate the negative impacts of coastal acidification

Oceanic absorption of atmospheric CO2 results in alterations of carbonate chemistry, a process coined ocean acidification (OA). The economically and ecologically important eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is vulnerable to these changes because low pH hampers CaCO3 precipitation needed for shell formation. Organisms have a range of physiological mechanisms to cope with altered carbonate chemistry; however, these processes can be energetically expensive and necessitate energy reallocation. Here, the hypothesis that resilience to low pH is related to energy resources was tested. In laboratory experiments, oysters were reared or maintained at ambient (400 ppm) and elevated (1300 ppm) pCO2 levels during larval and adult stages, respectively, before the effect of acidification on metabolism was evaluated. Results showed that oysters exposed to elevated pCO2 had significantly greater respiration. Subsequent experiments evaluated if food abundance influences oyster response to elevated pCO2. Under high food and elevated pCO2 conditions, oysters had less mortality and grew larger, suggesting that food can offset adverse impacts of elevated pCO2, while low food exacerbates the negative effects. Results also demonstrated that OA induced an increase in oyster ability to select their food particles, likely representing an adaptive strategy to enhance energy gains. While oysters appeared to have mechanisms conferring resilience to elevated pCO2, these came at the cost of depleting energy stores, which can limit the available energy for other physiological processes. Taken together, these results show that resilience to OA is at least partially dependent on energy availability, and oysters can enhance their tolerance to adverse conditions under optimal feeding regimes.

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Photoinhibition of the picophytoplankter Synechococcus is exacerbated by ocean acidification

The marine picocyanobacterium Synechococcus accounts for a major fraction of the primary production across the global oceans. However, knowledge of the responses of Synechococcus to changing pCO2 and light levels has been scarcely documented. Hence, we grew Synechococcus sp. CB0101 at two CO2 concentrations (ambient CO2 AC:410 μatm; high CO2 HC:1000 μatm) under various light levels between 25 and 800 μmol photons m−2 s−1 for 10–20 generations and found that the growth of Synechococcus strain CB0101 is strongly influenced by light intensity, peaking at 250 μmol m−2 s−1 and thereafter declined at higher light levels. Synechococcus cells showed a range of acclimation in their photophysiological characteristics, including changes in pigment content, optical absorption cross section, and light harvesting efficiency. Elevated pCO2 inhibited the growth of cells at light intensities close to or greater than saturation, with inhibition being greater under high light. Elevated pCO2 also reduced photosynthetic carbon fixation rates under high light but had smaller effects on the decrease in quantum yield and maximum relative electron transport rates observed under increasing light intensity. At the same time, the elevated pCO2 significantly decreased particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate organic nitrogen (PON), particularly under low light. Ocean acidification, by increasing the inhibitory effects of high light, may affect the growth and competitiveness of Synechococcus in surface waters in the future scenario.

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Hypoxia tolerance, but not low pH tolerance, is associated with a latitudinal cline across populations of Tigriopus californicus

Intertidal organisms must tolerate daily fluctuations in environmental parameters, and repeated exposure to co-occurring conditions may result in tolerance to multiple stressors correlating. The intertidal copepod Tigriopus californicus experiences diurnal variation in dissolved oxygen levels and pH as the opposing processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration lead to coordinated highs during the day and lows at night. While environmental parameters with overlapping spatial gradients frequently result in correlated traits, less attention has been given to exploring temporally correlated stressors. We investigated whether hypoxia tolerance correlates with low pH tolerance by separately testing the hypoxia and low pH stress tolerance separately of 6 genetically differentiated populations of Tcalifornicus. We independently checked for similarities in tolerance for each of the two stressors by latitude, sex, size, and time since collection as predictors. We found that although hypoxia tolerance correlated with latitude, low pH tolerance did not, and no predictor was significant for both stressors. We concluded that temporally coordinated exposure to low pH and low oxygen did not result in populations developing equivalent tolerance for both. Although climate change alters several environmental variables simultaneously, organisms’ abilities to tolerate these changes may not be similarly coupled.

Continue reading ‘Hypoxia tolerance, but not low pH tolerance, is associated with a latitudinal cline across populations of Tigriopus californicus’

Response mechanism of harmful algae Phaeocystis globosa to ocean warming and acidification

Graphical abstract

Simultaneous ocean warming and acidification will alter marine ecosystem structure and directly affect marine organisms. The alga Phaeocystis globosa commonly causes harmful algal blooms in coastal areas of eastern China. P. globosa often outcompetes other species due to its heterotypic life cycle, primarily including colonies and various types of solitary cells. However, little is known about the adaptive response of P. globosa to ocean warming and acidification. This study aimed to reveal the global molecular regulatory networks implicated in the response of P. globosa to simultaneous warming and acidification. After exposure to warming and acidification, the phosphatidylinositol (PI) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways of P. globosa were activated to regulate other molecular pathways in the cell, while the light harvesting complex (LHC) genes were downregulated to decrease photosynthesis. Exposure to warming and acidification also altered the intracellular energy flow, with more energy allocated to the TCA cycle rather than to the biosynthesis of fatty acids and hemolytic substances. The upregulation of genes associated with glycosaminoglycan (GAG) degradation prevented the accumulation of polysaccharides, which led to a reduction in colony formation. Finally, the upregulation of the Mre11 and Rad50 genes in response to warming and acidification implied an increase in meiosis, which may be used by P. globosa to increase the number of solitary cells. The increase in genetic diversity through sexual reproduction may be a strategy of P. globosa that supports rapid response to complex environments. Thus, the life cycle of P. globosa underwent a transition from colonies to solitary cells in response to warming and acidification, suggesting that this species may be able to rapidly adapt to future climate changes through life cycle transitions.

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Seaweeds cultivation methods and their role in climate mitigation and environmental cleanup

Seaweed cultivation is an emerging sector of food production that can full fill the future food demand of the growing population. Considering the importance, Asia is home to seven of the top ten seaweed-producing nations, and Asian countries contributed 99.1% of all seaweed cultivated for food. Besides, it can reduce the carbon budget of the ocean through seaweed farms and act as a CO2 sink. In the context of climate change mitigation, the seaweed culture is the energy crop, and during its entire life cycle can serve as a bio-filter and bio-extractor. The climate change effect can be reduced by farming seaweed on a commercial scale and it will protect the coastal area by decreasing the physical damage through damping wave energy. The seaweed can reduce eutrophication by removing excess nutrients from water bodies and releasing oxygen as a byproduct in return. The cultivation of seaweed plays an important role as the source of bioenergy for full fill the future energy requirement and it will act as clean energy through the establishment of algal biorefinery along with the seaweed cultivation site. Thus, the marine energy industrial sector moves further toward large-scale expansion of this sector by adopting energy devices to offer power for seaweed growth for biofuel operation. The current reviews provides the evidence of seaweed farming methodology adopted by different countries, as well as their production and output. To mitigate climate change by direct measures such as carbon sequestration, eutrophication risk reduction, and bioenergy, as well as through indirect measures like supplying food for cattle and reducing the strain on aquaculture. The US, Japan, and Germany lastly suggest the large-scale offshore commercial farming as a feasible climate change mitigation strategy.

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A look to the future acidified ocean through the eyes of the alien and invasive alga Caulerpa cylindracea (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae)

Underwater CO2 vents represent natural laboratories where the responses of marine organisms to ocean acidification can be tested. In a such context, we investigated the changes in the physiology, anatomy, and ultrastructure of the non-indigenous algal species Caulerpa cylindracea growing along a natural pH/CO2 gradient, by conducting a reciprocal transplant experiment between two populations from an acidified vs a non-acidified site. Stress effects in transplants from current to lowered pH conditions resulted in a decrease in the number of active chloroplasts together with an increased number of dilatations between thylakoid membranes and a higher amount of plastoglobules. These changes were consistent with a decrease in the chlorophyll content and in photosynthetic efficiency, matched by an increase in carotenoid content and non-photochemical yields. On the opposite side, transplants from low to current pH showed a recovery to original conditions. Unexpectedly, no significant difference was recorded between wild populations living at current and lowered pH. These results suggest an ongoing acclimation process to lowered pH in the C. cylindracea populations growing in the vent area. This confirms the high plasticity of this invasive species, able to cope not only with different light and temperature conditions but even with a new acidified scenario.

Continue reading ‘A look to the future acidified ocean through the eyes of the alien and invasive alga Caulerpa cylindracea (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae)’

Experimental evolution reveals the synergistic genomic mechanisms of adaptation to ocean warming and acidification in a marine copepod

Metazoan adaptation to global change relies on selection of standing genetic variation. Determining the extent to which this variation exists in natural populations, particularly for responses to simultaneous stressors, is essential to make accurate predictions for persistence in future conditions. Here, we identified the genetic variation enabling the copepod Acartia tonsa to adapt to experimental ocean warming, acidification, and combined ocean warming and acidification (OWA) over 25 generations of continual selection. Replicate populations showed a consistent polygenic response to each condition, targeting an array of adaptive mechanisms including cellular homeostasis, development, and stress response. We used a genome-wide covariance approach to partition the allelic changes into three categories: selection, drift and replicate-specific selection, and laboratory adaptation responses. The majority of allele frequency change in warming (57%) and OWA (63%) was driven by shared selection pressures across replicates, but this effect was weaker under acidification alone (20%). OWA and warming shared 37% of their response to selection but OWA and acidification shared just 1%, indicating that warming is the dominant driver of selection in OWA. Despite the dominance of warming, the interaction with acidification was still critical as the OWA selection response was highly synergistic with 47% of the allelic selection response unique from either individual treatment. These results disentangle how genomic targets of selection differ between single and multiple stressors and demonstrate the complexity that nonadditive multiple stressors will contribute to predictions of adaptation to complex environmental shifts caused by global change.

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Acclimatory gene expression of primed clams enhances robustness to elevated pCO2

Sublethal exposure to environmental challenges may enhance ability to cope with chronic or repeated change, a process known as priming. In a previous study, pre-exposure to seawater enriched with pCO2 improved growth and reduced antioxidant capacity of juvenile Pacific geoduck Panopea generosa clams, suggesting that transcriptional shifts may drive phenotypic modifications post-priming. To this end, juvenile clams were sampled and TagSeq gene expression data were analysed after (i) a 110-day acclimation under ambient (921 μatm, naïve) and moderately elevated pCO2 (2870 μatm, pre-exposed); then following (ii) a second 7-day exposure to three pCO2 treatments (ambient: 754 μatm; moderately elevated: 2750 μatm; severely elevated: 4940 μatm), a 7-day return to ambient pCO2 and a third 7-day exposure to two pCO2 treatments (ambient: 967 μatm; moderately elevated: 3030 μatm). Pre-exposed geoducks frontloaded genes for stress and apoptosis/innate immune response, homeostatic processes, protein degradation and transcriptional modifiers. Pre-exposed geoducks were also responsive to subsequent encounters, with gene sets enriched for mitochondrial recycling and immune defence under elevated pCO2 and energy metabolism and biosynthesis under ambient recovery. In contrast, gene sets with higher expression in naïve clams were enriched for fatty-acid degradation and glutathione components, suggesting naïve clams could be depleting endogenous fuels, with unsustainable energetic requirements if changes in carbonate chemistry persist. Collectively, our transcriptomic data indicate that pCO2 priming during post-larval periods could, via gene expression regulation, enhance robustness in bivalves to environmental change. Such priming approaches may be beneficial for aquaculture, as seafood demand intensifies concurrent with increasing climate change in marine systems.

Continue reading ‘Acclimatory gene expression of primed clams enhances robustness to elevated pCO2

Adaptation of a marine diatom to ocean acidification increases its sensitivity to toxic metal exposure


  • Adaptation to OA increased marine diatom’s sensitivity to heavy metals (HM).
  • OA-adapted cells decreased their growth and photosynthesis at high HM levels.
  • The increase in sensitivity is associated with reduced metabolic activity.


Most previous studies investigating the interplay of ocean acidification (OA) and heavy metal on marine phytoplankton were only conducted in short-term, which may provide conservative estimates of the adaptive capacity of them. Here, we examined the physiological responses of long-term (~900 generations) OA-adapted and non-adapted populations of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum to different concentrations of the two heavy metals Cd and Cu. Our results showed that long-term OA selected populations exhibited significantly lower growth and reduced photosynthetic activity than ambient CO2 selected populations at relatively high heavy metal levels. Those findings suggest that the adaptations to high CO2 results in an increased sensitivity of the marine diatom to toxic metal exposure. This study provides evidence for the costs and the cascading consequences associated with the adaptation of phytoplankton to elevated CO2 conditions, and improves our understanding of the complex interactions of future OA and heavy metal pollution in marine waters.

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Rates of future climate change in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea: implications for coral reef ecosystems

Rising temperatures and ocean acidification due to anthropogenic climate change pose ominous threats to coral reef ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and the western Caribbean Sea. Unfortunately, the once structurally complex coral reefs in the GoM and Caribbean have dramatically declined since the 1970s; relatively few coral reefs still exhibit a mean live coral cover of > 10%. Additional work is needed to characterize future climate stressors on corals reefs in the GoM and the Caribbean Sea. Here, we use climate model simulations spanning the period of 2015-2100 to partition and assess the individual impacts of climate stressors on corals in the GoM and the western Caribbean Sea. We use a top-down modeling framework to diagnose future projected changes in thermal stress and ocean acidification and discuss its implications for coral reef ecosystems. We find that ocean temperatures increase by 2-3°C over the 21st century, and surpass reported regional bleaching thresholds by mid-century. Whereas ocean acidification occurs, the rate and magnitude of temperature changes outpace and outweigh the impacts of changes in aragonite saturation state. A framework for quantifying and communicating future risks in the GoM and Caribbean using reef risk projection maps is discussed. Without substantial mitigation efforts, the combined impact of increasing ocean temperatures and acidification are likely to stress most existing corals in the GoM and the Caribbean, with widespread economic and ecological consequences.

Plain Language Summary

Coral reefs are among the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth, and the coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and the Caribbean Sea are no exception. In this region, coral reefs support vibrant recreation, tourism, and fishing industries. However, climate change, including rising temperatures and ocean acidification, threaten the future health of corals. To asses climate-change related risks to coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, this study uses climate model simulations spanning 2015-2100 to understand future changes in temperature and ocean acidification. Although many regions of the Gulf of Mexico and the western Caribbean Sea will cross the critical coral reef bleaching thresholds by mid-century, we hope that this work will inform and streamline mitigation efforts to protect vulnerable coral reef ecosystems and the valuable benefits and resources they provide to local communities.

Key Points

  • Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) surpass critical coral bleaching thresholds by mid-century in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and Caribbean Sea
  • The rate and magnitude of SST changes in the GoM/Caribbean more strongly influence future coral reef vulnerability than ocean acidification
  • Future climate projections with high greenhouse gas forcing underscore the need for mitigation to ensure long-term coral reef preservation
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Climate resilience and adaptation in West African oyster fisheries: an expert-based assessment of the vulnerability of the oyster Crassostrea tulipa to climate change

Graphical abstract

Globally, over 85% of oyster reefs have been lost, and the combined effects of climate change, ocean acidification, and environmental degradation, including pollution and mangrove overharvesting, could further reduce global oyster fisheries in the coming decades. To understand the level of impact of climate change on the oyster fishery in West Africa, an expert-based vulnerability assessment to climate change was conducted for the West African mangrove oyster (Crassostrea tulipa, Lamarck 1819). Using a combination of the exposure of the oyster to climatic stressors (estuarine temperature, salinity, river flow, surface run-off, sea level rise, and estuarine circulation) together with an assessment of sensitivity to these stressors, we estimate the overall vulnerability of C. tulipa to climate change. A very high overall climate vulnerability score of 12 on a scale of 16 was calculated for C. tulipa. While the overall climate exposure score in the West African coastal region remained high, the high sensitivity of C. tulipa to hydrographic conditions of its habitat, in particular salinity, coupled with its sessile and habitat-specific nature, pushed the overall vulnerability to very high. Early life history settlement requirements, adult mobility, and sensitivity to salinity were the three most important biological and sensitivity attributes that determined the vulnerability score. By leaving each of these three sensitivity attributes out of the analysis, the overall vulnerability score was reduced to 9 (i.e., from very high to high). A negative directional effect of climate change, coupled with a low potential for change in distribution, threatens the C. tulipa fishery in a long-term adverse climate scenario. We recommend management efforts that incorporate climate resilience and adaptation practices to prioritize recruitment success, as well as the development of breeding lines with climate-resilient traits.

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Metagenomic shifts in mucus, tissue and skeleton of the coral Balanophyllia europaea living along a natural CO2 gradient

Using the Mediterranean coral Balanophyllia europaea naturally growing along a pH gradient close to Panarea island (Italy) as a model, we explored the role of host-associated microbiomes in coral acclimatization to ocean acidification (OA). Coral samples were collected at three sites along the gradient, mimicking seawater conditions projected for 2100 under different IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scenarios, and mucus, soft tissue and skeleton associated microbiomes were characterized by shotgun metagenomics. According to our findings, OA induced functional changes in the microbiomes genetic potential that could mitigate the sub-optimal environmental conditions at three levels: i. selection of bacteria genetically equipped with functions related to stress resistance; ii. shifts in microbial carbohydrate metabolism from energy production to maintenance of cell membranes and walls integrity; iii. gain of functions able to respond to variations in nitrogen needs at the holobiont level, such as genes devoted to organic nitrogen mobilization. We hence provided hypotheses about the functional role of the coral associated microbiome in favoring host acclimatation to OA, remarking on the importance of considering the crosstalk among all the components of the holobiont to unveil how and to what extent corals will maintain their functionality under forthcoming ocean conditions.

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Elevated pCO2 induced physiological, molecular and metabolic changes in Nannochloropsis oceanica and its effects on trophic transfer

The rise of dissolution of anthropogenic CO2 into the ocean alters marine carbonate chemistry and then results in ocean acidification (OA). It has been observed that OA induced different effects on different microalgae. In this study, we explored the physiological and biochemical changes in Nannochloropsis oceanica in response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and tested the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on the food web through animal feeding experiments at a laboratory scale. We found that the levels of C, N, C/N, Fv/Fm, and photosynthetic carbon fixation rate of algae cells were increased under high carbon dioxide concentration. Under short-term acidification, soluble carbohydrate, protein, and proportion of unsaturated fatty acids in cells were significantly increased. Under long-term acidification, the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (~33.83%) increased compared with that in control (~30.89%), but total protein decreased significantly compared with the control. Transcriptome and metabonomics analysis showed that the differential expression of genes in some metabolic pathways was not significant in short-term acidification, but most genes in the Calvin cycle were significantly downregulated. Under long-term acidification, the Calvin cycle, fatty acid biosynthesis, TAG synthesis, and nitrogen assimilation pathways were significantly downregulated, but the fatty acid β-oxidation pathway was significantly upregulated. Metabolome results showed that under long-term acidification, the levels of some amino acids increased significantly, while carbohydrates decreased, and the proportion of PUFAs increased. The rotifer Brachionus plicatilis grew slowly when fed on N. oceanica grown under short and long-term acidification conditions, and fatty acid profile analysis indicated that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels increased significantly under long-term acidification in both N. oceanica (~9.48%) and its consumer B. Plicatilis (~27.67%). It can be seen that N. oceanica formed a specific adaptation mechanism to OA by regulating carbon and nitrogen metabolism, and at the same time caused changes of cellular metabolic components. Although PUFAs were increased, they still had adverse effects on downstream consumers.

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