Posts Tagged 'algae'

Divergent responses in growth and nutritional quality of coastal macroalgae to the combination of increased pCO2 and nutrients


  • Growth rates and tissue quality of two common macroalgal species were assessed under conditions of high pCO2 and nutrient loading under monoculture and biculture.
  • Ephemeral macroalgae exhibited significant increases in growth under high pCO2 and high nutrients.
  • Growth rates of perennial macroalgae were unaffected by environmental treatments.
  • Tissue quality of both species increased via decreases in C:N when nutrients were increased.
  • Biculture appears to impact resource acquisition of perennial macroalgae as evidence of higher tissue C:N when compared to monoculture tissue.


Coastal ecosystems are subjected to global and local environmental stressors, including increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) (and subsequent ocean acidification) and nutrient loading. Here, we tested how two common macroalgal species in the Northwest Atlantic (Ulva spp. and Fucus vesiculosus Linneaus) respond to the combination of increased CO2 and nutrient loading. We utilized two levels of pCO2 with two levels of nutrients in a full factorial design, testing the growth rates and tissue quality of Ulva and Fucus grown for 21 days in monoculture and biculture. We found that the opportunistic, fast-growing Ulva exhibited increased growth rates under high pCO2 and high nutrients, with growth rates increasing three-fold above Ulva grown in ambient pCO2 and ambient nutrients. By contrast, Fucus growth rates were not impacted by either environmental factor. Both species exhibited a decline in carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N) with elevated nutrients, but pCO2 concentration did not alter tissue quality in either species. Species grown in biculture exhibited similar growth rates to those in monoculture conditions, but Fucus C:N increased significantly when grown with Ulva, indicating an effect of the presence of Ulva on Fucus. Our results suggest that the combination of ocean acidification and nutrients will enhance abundance of opportunistic algal species in coastal systems and will likely drive macroalgal community shifts, based on species-specific responses to future conditions.

Continue reading ‘Divergent responses in growth and nutritional quality of coastal macroalgae to the combination of increased pCO2 and nutrients’

The organizing effects of elevated CO2 on competition among estuarine primary producers

Fossil fuel combustion, eutrophication, and upwelling introduce excess CO2 into coastal zones. The extent to which marine autotrophs may benefit from elevated CO2 will be a function of their carbon limitation and, among other factors, competition with other primary producers. Here, we report on experiments performed with North Atlantic species of Ulva and Gracilaria grown in situ or exposed to ambient (~400 µatm) and elevated pCO2 (~2500 µatm) and/or subjected to competition with each other and/or with natural plankton assemblages. Elevated pCO2significantly increased the growth rates of Gracilaria and Ulva and yielded significant declines in tissue δ13C, suggesting that increased growth was associated with increased CO2 use relative to HCO3−. Gracilaria growth was unaffected by competition with plankton or Ulva, while Ulva experienced significantly reduced growth when competing with Gracilaria or plankton. Dinoflagellates experienced significantly increased growth when exposed to elevated pCO2 but significantly slower growth when competing with Gracilaria. Elevated carbon-to-nitrogen ratios among macroalgae suggested that competition for nitrogen also shaped interactions among autotrophs, particularly Ulva. While some estuarine autotrophs benefit from elevated pCO2, the benefit can change when direct competition with other primary producers is considered with Gracilaria outcompeting Ulva and dinoflagellates outcompeting diatoms under elevated pCO2.

Continue reading ‘The organizing effects of elevated CO2 on competition among estuarine primary producers’

Boron isotope sensitivity to seawater pH change in a species of Neogoniolithon coralline red alga

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) observed since the industrial revolution has reduced surface ocean pH by ∼0.1 pH units, with further change in the oceanic system predicted in the coming decades. Calcareous organisms can be negatively affected by extreme changes in seawater pH (pHsw) such as this due to the associated changes in the oceanic carbonate system. The boron isotopic composition (δ11B) of biogenic carbonates has been previously used to monitor pH at the calcification site (pHcf) in scleractinian corals, providing mechanistic insights into coral biomineralisation and the impact of variable pHsw on this process. Motivated by these investigations, this study examines the δ11B of the high-Mg calcite skeleton of the coralline red alga Neogoniolithon sp. to constrain pHcf, and investigates how this taxon’s pHcf is impacted by ocean acidification. δ11B was measured in multiple algal replicates (n = 4 to 5) cultured at four different pCO2 scenarios – averaging (± 1σ) 409 (± 6), 606 (± 7), 903 (± 12) and 2856 (± 54) μatm, corresponding to average pHsw (± 1σ) of 8.19 (± 0.03), 8.05 (± 0.06), 7.91 (± 0.03) and 7.49 (± 0.02) respectively. Results show that skeletal δ11B is elevated relative to the δ11B of seawater borate at all pHsw treatments by up to 18 ‰. Although substantial variability in δ11B exists between replicate samples cultured at a given pHsw (smallest range = 2.32 ‰ at pHsw 8.19, largest range = 6.08 ‰ at pHsw 7.91), strong correlations are identified between δ11B and pHsw (R2 = 0.72, p < 0.0001, n = 16) and between δ11B and B/Ca (R2 = 0.72, p < 0.0001, n = 16). Assuming that skeletal δ11B reflects pHcf as previously observed for scleractinian corals, the average pHcf across all experiments was 1.20 pH units (0.79 to 1.56) higher than pHsw, with the magnitude of this offset varying parabolically with decreasing pHsw, with a maximum difference between pHsw and pHcf at a pHsw of 7.91. Observed relationships between pHsw and calcification rate, and between pHsw and pHcf, suggest that coralline algae exhibit some resilience to moderate ocean acidification via increase of pHcf relative to pHsw in a similar manner to scleractinian corals. However, these results also indicate that pHcf cannot be sufficiently increased by algae exposed to a larger reduction in pHsw, adversely impacting calcification rates of coralline red algae.

Continue reading ‘Boron isotope sensitivity to seawater pH change in a species of Neogoniolithon coralline red alga’

Effects of ocean acidification and contact with the brown alga Stypopodium zonale on the settlement and early survival of the coral Porites astreoides

To evaluate the effects of ocean acidification (OA) and algal presence on the early life-history stages of corals, we conducted an aquarium study that examined the isolated and combined effects of reduced pH (pH 8.10 vs. 7.85) and contact with the alga Stypopodium zonale on the survival, settlement, and post-settlement growth of larvae from the brooding coral Porites astreoides. Two settlement substrates, biofilmed tiles and the crustose coralline alga (CCA) Hydrolithon boergesenii, were initially incubated for 12 d in separate tanks under a factorial combination of low pH and S. zonale contact, and then subjected to a series of settlement assays. Across both substrate types, S. zonale presence significantly reduced coral settlement. Low pH imposed relatively minor effects; however, there was a significant interaction between pH and S. zonale presence for settlement on the CCA substrate, such that low pH exacerbated the negative effects of S. zonale. Post-settlement growth for 2 wk was unaffected by either S. zonale presence or low pH on either substrate. While our results demonstrate that S. zonale contact likely remains a dominant threat to larval survival and settlement, in certain cases, OA may amplify the negative effects of S. zonale presence, highlighting the need to consider multiple factors in studies aimed at assessing the future health of coral reef ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification and contact with the brown alga Stypopodium zonale on the settlement and early survival of the coral Porites astreoides’

The short-term effects of elevated CO2 and ammonium concentrations on physiological responses in Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (Rhodophyta)

Ocean acidification (OA) and coastal eutrophication affect coastal marine organisms. We studied the physiological responses of Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta) to increased concentrations of CO2 and NH4 +. Incubation treatments were applied at two different pH units (low, 7.5; high (control), 7.9) and three different NH4 + concentrations (low, 10; medium, 50; high, 100 μM). Growth, rates of photosynthetic oxygen evolution, and NH4 + uptake rates were affected by both elevated CO2 and NH4 + conditions. The changes in the pH of culture media were influenced by elevated CO2 or NH4 +treatments. However, chlorophyll fluorescence was affected only by the level of NH4 +. These results indicate that the physiological responses of G. lemaneiformis might be enhanced when the concentrations of CO2and NH4 + rise. Therefore, cultures of this alga could provide a good mitigation solution against ongoing problems with OA and coastal eutrophication.

Continue reading ‘The short-term effects of elevated CO2 and ammonium concentrations on physiological responses in Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (Rhodophyta)’

Calcifying algae maintain settlement cues to larval abalone following algal exposure to extreme ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) increasingly threatens marine systems, and is especially harmful to calcifying organisms. One important question is whether OA will alter species interactions. Crustose coralline algae (CCA) provide space and chemical cues for larval settlement. CCA have shown strongly negative responses to OA in previous studies, including disruption of settlement cues to corals. In California, CCA provide cues for seven species of harvested, threatened, and endangered abalone. We exposed four common CCA genera and a crustose calcifying red algae, Peyssonnelia (collectively CCRA) from California to three pCO2 levels ranging from 419-2,013 µatm for four months. We then evaluated abalone (Haliotis rufescens) settlement under ambient conditions among the CCRA and non-algal controls that had been previously exposed to the pCO2 treatments. Abalone settlement and metamorphosis increased from 11% in the absence of CCRA to 45-69% when CCRA were present, with minor variation among CCRA genera. Though all CCRA genera reduced growth during exposure to increased pCO2, abalone settlement was unaffected by prior CCRA exposure to increased pCO2. Thus, we find no impacts of OA exposure history on CCRA provision of settlement cues. Additionally, there appears to be functional redundancy in genera of CCRA providing cues to abalone, which may further buffer OA effects.

Continue reading ‘Calcifying algae maintain settlement cues to larval abalone following algal exposure to extreme ocean acidification’

Tissue nitrogen status does not alter the physiological responses of Macrocystis pyrifera to ocean acidification

Evaluating the relative effects of local (e.g. eutrophication) and global (e.g. ocean acidification, OA) environmental change is important to predict how marine macroalgae might respond to future oceanic conditions. In this study, the effects of nitrate supply, and hence tissue nitrogen status, and OA on the N metabolism, growth and photosynthetic rates of the kelp Macrocystis pyrifera were examined. We hypothesized that (1) NO3− uptake and assimilation processes will depend on nitrate supply and (2) tissue N status modulates the physiological response of Macrocystis to OA. Macrocystis blades were grown for 3 days under replete or deplete NO3−concentrations. Thereafter, the NO3− replete and deplete blades were grown for 3 days under current and future pCO2/pH conditions, with NO3− enriched SW. After the initial pre-experimental incubation, total tissue N content, nitrate reductase (NR) activity and internal NO3− pools were reduced under low [NO3−], while NO3− uptake rates increased. Initial tissue N status did not modulate the physiological response to OA. However, NO3− uptake rates and NR activity were enhanced under the OA treatment regardless of the initial tissue N status, suggesting that increases in [H+]/reduced pH might play a regulating role in the N metabolism of this species.

Continue reading ‘Tissue nitrogen status does not alter the physiological responses of Macrocystis pyrifera to ocean acidification’

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Powered by FeedBurner

Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 1,025,211 hits


Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book