Posts Tagged 'adaptation'

Effects of ocean acidification on the levels of primary and secondary metabolites in the brown macroalga Sargassum vulgare at different time scales


Sargassum vulgare growing at CO2 vents was compared with those growing at control site.
S. vulgare from control site was transplanted to CO2 vents for 2 weeks.
• In short-term responses, S. vulgare showed increased level of sugars, PUFAs, and EAAs.
• Natural population at vents showed decreased sugars, PUFAs, phenols, and increased EAAs.
• Nutritional values of algae will decrease under acidification in long time scale.


Most of the studies regarding the impact of ocean acidification on macroalgae have been carried out for short-term periods, in controlled laboratory conditions, thus hampering the possibility to scale up the effects on long-term. In the present study, the volcanic CO2 vents off Ischia Island were used as a natural laboratory to investigate the metabolic response of the brown alga Sargassum vulgare to acidification at different time scales. For long-term effects, algal populations naturally growing at acidified and control sites were compared. For short-term responses, in situ reciprocal transplants from control to acidified site and vice-versa were performed. Changes in the levels of sugars, fatty acids (FAs), amino acids (AAs), antioxidants, and phenolic compounds were examined. Our main finding includes variable metabolic response of this alga at different time scales to natural acidification. The levels of sugars, FAs, and some secondary metabolites were lower in the natural population at the acidified site, whereas the majority of AAs were higher than those detected in thalli growing at control site. Moreover, in algae transplanted from control to acidified site, soluble sugars (glucose and mannose), majority of AAs, and FAs increased in comparison to control plants transplanted within the same site. The differences in the response of the macroalga suggest that the metabolic changes observed in transplants may be due to acclimation that supports algae to cope with acidification, thus leading to adaptation to lowered pH in long time scale.

Graphical abstract

Unlabelled Image

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on the levels of primary and secondary metabolites in the brown macroalga Sargassum vulgare at different time scales’

Population-specific responses in physiological rates of Emiliania huxleyi to a broad CO2 range

Although coccolithophore physiological responses to CO2-induced changes in seawater carbonate chemistry have been widely studied in the past, there is limited knowledge on the variability of physiological responses between populations from different areas. In the present study, we investigated the specific responses of growth, particulate organic (POC) and inorganic carbon (PIC) production rates of three populations of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi from three regions in the North Atlantic Ocean (Azores: six strains, Canary Islands: five strains, and Norwegian coast near Bergen: six strains) to a CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) range from 120 to 2630 µatm. Physiological rates of each population and individual strain increased with rising pCO2 levels, reached a maximum and declined thereafter. Optimal pCO2 for growth, POC production rates, and tolerance to low pH (i.e., high proton concentration) was significantly higher in an E. huxleyi population isolated from the Norwegian coast than in those isolated near the Azores and Canary Islands. This may be due to the large environmental variability including large pCO2 and pH fluctuations in coastal waters off Bergen compared to the rather stable oceanic conditions at the other two sites. Maximum growth and POC production rates of the Azores and Bergen populations were similar and significantly higher than that of the Canary Islands population. This pattern could be driven by temperature–CO2 interactions where the chosen incubation temperature (16 °C) was slightly below what strains isolated near the Canary Islands normally experience. Our results indicate adaptation of E. huxleyi to their local environmental conditions and the existence of distinct E. huxleyi populations. Within each population, different growth, POC, and PIC production rates at different pCO2 levels indicated strain-specific phenotypic plasticity. Accounting for this variability is important to understand how or whether E. huxleyi might adapt to rising CO2 levels.

Continue reading ‘Population-specific responses in physiological rates of Emiliania huxleyi to a broad CO2 range’

Ocean acidification conditions increase resilience of marine diatoms

The fate of diatoms in future acidified oceans could have dramatic implications on marine ecosystems, because they account for ~40% of marine primary production. Here, we quantify resilience of Thalassiosira pseudonana in mid-20th century (300 ppm CO2) and future (1000 ppm CO2) conditions that cause ocean acidification, using a stress test that probes its ability to recover from incrementally higher amount of low-dose ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) radiation and re-initiate growth in day–night cycles, limited by nitrogen. While all cultures eventually collapse, those growing at 300 ppm CO2 succumb sooner. The underlying mechanism for collapse appears to be a system failure resulting from “loss of relational resilience,” that is, inability to adopt physiological states matched to N-availability and phase of the diurnal cycle. Importantly, under elevated CO2 conditions diatoms sustain relational resilience over a longer timeframe, demonstrating increased resilience to future acidified ocean conditions. This stress test framework can be extended to evaluate and predict how various climate change associated stressors may impact microbial community resilience.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification conditions increase resilience of marine diatoms’

Epigenome-associated phenotypic acclimatization to ocean acidification in a reef-building coral

There are increasing concerns that the current rate of climate change might outpace the ability of reef-building corals to adapt to future conditions. Work on model systems has shown that environmentally induced alterations in DNA methylation can lead to phenotypic acclimatization. While DNA methylation has been reported in corals and is thought to associate with phenotypic plasticity, potential mechanisms linked to changes in whole-genome methylation have yet to be elucidated. We show that DNA methylation significantly reduces spurious transcription in the coral Stylophora pistillata. Furthermore, we find that DNA methylation also reduces transcriptional noise by fine-tuning the expression of highly expressed genes. Analysis of DNA methylation patterns of corals subjected to long-term pH stress showed widespread changes in pathways regulating cell cycle and body size. Correspondingly, we found significant increases in cell and polyp sizes that resulted in more porous skeletons, supporting the hypothesis that linear extension rates are maintained under conditions of reduced calcification. These findings suggest an epigenetic component in phenotypic acclimatization that provides corals with an additional mechanism to cope with environmental change.

Continue reading ‘Epigenome-associated phenotypic acclimatization to ocean acidification in a reef-building coral’

Effects of parental acclimation and energy limitation in response to high CO2 exposure in Atlantic cod

Ocean acidification (OA), the dissolution of excess anthropogenic carbon dioxide in ocean waters, is a potential stressor to many marine fish species. Whether species have the potential to acclimate and adapt to changes in the seawater carbonate chemistry is still largely unanswered. Simulation experiments across several generations are challenging for large commercially exploited species because of their long generation times. For Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), we present first data on the effects of parental acclimation to elevated aquatic CO2 on larval survival, a fundamental parameter determining population recruitment. The parental generation in this study was exposed to either ambient or elevated aquatic CO2 levels simulating end-of-century OA levels (~1100 µatm CO2) for six weeks prior to spawning. Upon fully reciprocal exposure of the F1 generation, we quantified larval survival, combined with two larval feeding regimes in order to investigate the potential effect of energy limitation. We found a significant reduction in larval survival at elevated CO2 that was partly compensated by parental acclimation to the same CO2 exposure. Such compensation was only observed in the treatment with high food availability. This complex 3-way interaction indicates that surplus metabolic resources need to be available to allow a transgenerational alleviation response to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Effects of parental acclimation and energy limitation in response to high CO2 exposure in Atlantic cod’

The capacity of oysters to regulate energy metabolism‐related processes may be key to their resilience against ocean acidification

Bivalve molluscs, such as oysters, are threatened by shifts in seawater chemistry resulting from climate change. However, a few species and populations within a species stand out for their capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change‐associated stressors. Understanding the intracellular basis of such differential responses can contribute to the development of strategies to minimise the pervasive effects of a changing ocean on marine organisms. In this study, we explored the intracellular responses to ocean acidification in two genetically distinct populations of Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata). Selectively bred and wild type oysters exhibited markedly different mitochondrial integrities (mitochondrial membrane potential) and levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in their hemocytes under CO2 stress. Analysis of these cellular parameters after 4 and 15 days of exposure to elevated CO2 indicated that the onset of intracellular responses occurred earlier in the selectively bred oysters when compared to the wild type population. This may be due to an inherent capacity for increased intracellular energy production or adaptive energy reallocation in the selectively bred population. The differences observed in mitochondrial integrity and in ROS formation between oyster breeding lines reveal candidate biological processes that may underlie resilience or susceptibility to ocean acidification. Such processes can be targeted in breeding programs aiming to mitigate the impacts of climate change on threatened species.

Continue reading ‘The capacity of oysters to regulate energy metabolism‐related processes may be key to their resilience against ocean acidification’

Residing at low pH matters, resilience of the egg jelly coat of sea urchins living at a CO2 vent site

The sea urchin egg jelly coat is important in fertilisation as a source of sperm activating compounds, in species-specific gamete recognition and in increasing egg target size for sperm. The impact of ocean acidification (− 0.3 to 0.5 pHT units) on the egg jelly coat of Arbacia lixula was investigated comparing populations resident in a control (pHT 8.00) and a CO2 vent site (mean pHT 7.69) in Ischia. Measurements of egg and jelly coat size showed no significant differences between sea urchins from the different sites; however, sensitivity of the jelly coat to decreased pH differed depending on the origin of the population. Acidification to pHT 7.7 and 7.5 significantly decreased egg jelly coat size of control urchins by 27 and 23%, respectively. In contrast, the jelly coat of the vent urchins was not affected by acidification. For the vent urchins, there was a significant positive relationship between egg and jelly coat size, a relationship not seen for the eggs of females from the control site. As egg and jelly coat size was similar between both populations, vent A. lixula jelly coats are likely to be chemically fine-tuned for the low pH environment. That the egg jelly coat of sea urchins from the vent site was robust to low pH shows intraspecific variation in this trait, and that this difference may be a maternal adaptive strategy or plastic response. If this is a common response in sea urchins, this would facilitate the maintenance of gamete function, facilitating fertilisation success in a low pH ocean.

Continue reading ‘Residing at low pH matters, resilience of the egg jelly coat of sea urchins living at a CO2 vent site’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book