Posts Tagged 'annelids'

Physiological and biochemical impacts induced by mercury pollution and seawater acidification in Hediste diversicolor

The present study evaluated the impacts of predicted seawater acidification and Hg pollution, when stressors were acting alone and in combination, on the polychaete Hediste diversicolor. Polychaetes were exposed during 28 days to low pH (7.5), Hg (5 μg/L) and pH 7.5 + Hg, and physiological alterations (respiration rate), biochemical markers related to metabolic potential (glycogen and protein content, electron transport system activity) and oxidative status (activity of antioxidant and biotransformation enzymes, lipid peroxidation) were evaluated. The results obtained clearly showed that polychaetes were sensitive to low pH and Hg contamination, both acting alone or in combination. Organisms used their energy reserves under stressful conditions, which decreased by up to half of the control content, probably to fuel defence mechanisms. Our findings further demonstrated that polychaetes exposed to these stressors presented increased antioxidant defence mechanisms (3 fold compared to control). However, organisms were not able to prevent cellular damage, especially noticed at Hg exposure and pH 7.5. Overall, although all the tested conditions induced oxidative stress in Hediste diversicolor, the combined effect of seawater acidification and Hg contamination did not induce higher impacts in polychaetes than single stressor exposures. These findings may indicate that predicted climate change scenarios may not increase Hediste diversicolor sensitivity towards Hg and may not significantly change the toxicity of this contaminant to this polychaete species.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and biochemical impacts induced by mercury pollution and seawater acidification in Hediste diversicolor’

Altered epiphyte community and sea urchin diet in Posidonia oceanica meadows in the vicinity of submarine volcanic CO2 vents

Ocean acidification (OA) predicted for 2100 is expected to shift seagrass epiphyte communities towards the dominance of more tolerant non-calcifying taxa. However, little is known about the indirect effects of such changes on food provision to key seagrass consumers. We found that epiphyte communities of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica in two naturally acidified sites (i.e. north and south sides of a volcanic CO2 vent) and in a control site away from the vent at the Ischia Island (NW Mediterranean Sea) significantly differed in composition and abundance. Such differences involved a higher abundance of non-calcareous crustose brown algae and a decline of calcifying polychaetes in both acidified sites. A lower epiphytic abundance of crustose coralline algae occurred only in the south side of the vents, thus suggesting that OA may alter epiphyte assemblages in different ways due to interaction with local factors such as differential fish herbivory or hydrodynamics. The OA effects on food items (seagrass, epiphytes, and algae) indirectly propagated into food provision to the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, as reflected by a reduced P. oceanica exploitation (i.e. less seagrass and calcareous epiphytes in the diet) in favour of non-calcareous green algae in both vent sites. In contrast, we detected no difference close and outside the vents neither in the composition of sea urchin diet nor in the total abundance of calcareous versus non-calcareous taxa. More research, under realistic scenarios of predicted pH reduction (i.e. ≤ 0.32 units of pH by 2100), is still necessary to better understand cascading effects of this altered urchin exploitation of food resources under acidified conditions on ecosystem diversity and function.

Continue reading ‘Altered epiphyte community and sea urchin diet in Posidonia oceanica meadows in the vicinity of submarine volcanic CO2 vents’

Marine gametes in a changing ocean: Impacts of climate change stressors on fecundity and the egg

In marine invertebrates, the environmental history of the mother can influence fecundity and egg size. Acclimation of females in climate change stressors, increased temperature and low pH, results in a decrease in egg number and size in many taxa, with the exception of cephalopods, where eggs increase in size. With respect to spawned eggs, near future levels of ocean acidification can interfere with the eggs’ block to polyspermy and intracellular pH. Reduction of the extracellular egg jelly coat seen in low pH conditions has implications for impaired egg function and fertilization. Some fast generation species (e.g. copepods, polychaetes) have shown restoration of female reproductive output after several generations in treatments. It will be important to determine if the changes to egg number and size induced by exposure to climate change stressors are heritable.

Continue reading ‘Marine gametes in a changing ocean: Impacts of climate change stressors on fecundity and the egg’

Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community

Changes in marine communities in response to elevated CO2 have been reported but information on how representatives of the benthic lower trophic levels will be impacted remains scarce. A laboratory experiment was conducted to evaluate the impact of different climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community. Samples of the meiofauna community were collected from the coral reef subtidal zone of Serrambi beach (Ipojuca, Pernambuco, Brazil), using artificial substrate units. The units were exposed to control treatments and to three climate change scenarios, and collected after 15 and 29 d. Important changes in the meiofauna community structure were observed after 15 d of exposure. The major meiofauna groups exhibited divergent responses to the various scenarios. Although polychaetes were negatively affected after 29 d in the most severe scenario (Scenario III), harpacticoid copepods were negatively affected in Scenarios II and III after 15 and 29 d. Harpacticoid nauplii were strongly and negatively affected in all scenarios. In contrast, Nematoda exhibited higher densities in all scenarios. To the best of our knowledge, this community-based study was the first to observe how meiofauna organisms from a coral reef environment react to the synergetic effects of reductions in seawater pH and increased temperature.

Continue reading ‘Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community’

Tropical CO2 seeps reveal the impact of ocean acidification on coral reef invertebrate recruitment


  • CO2 seeps at two coral reefs in Papua New Guinea were used as natural analogues of ocean acidification.
  • Elevated CO2 affected recruitment in marine invertebrate communities.
  • Calcified recruits of reef-dwelling Foraminifera, polychaetes, gastropods, and bivalves were vulnerable to acidification.
  • Amphipods and copepods, which are important prey taxa, were adversely affected by acidification caused by elevated CO2.


Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing ocean acidification by reducing seawater pH and carbonate saturation levels. Laboratory studies have demonstrated that many larval and juvenile marine invertebrates are vulnerable to these changes in surface ocean chemistry, but challenges remain in predicting effects at community and ecosystem levels. We investigated the effect of ocean acidification on invertebrate recruitment at two coral reef CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. Invertebrate communities differed significantly between ‘reference’ (median pH 7.97, 8.00), ‘high CO2’ (median pH 7.77, 7.79), and ‘extreme CO2’ (median pH 7.32, 7.68) conditions at each reef. There were also significant reductions in calcifying taxa, copepods and amphipods as CO2 levels increased. The observed shifts in recruitment were comparable to those previously described in the Mediterranean, revealing an ecological mechanism by which shallow coastal systems are affected by near-future levels of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Tropical CO2 seeps reveal the impact of ocean acidification on coral reef invertebrate recruitment’

Short-term effects of CO2-induced low pH exposure on target gene expression in Platynereis dumerilii

Objective: Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration are causing changes to the seawater carbonate chemistry, lowering the pH and we study potential impacts of these changes at the molecular level in a non-calcifying, marine polychaete species Platynereis dumerilii.

Methods: We investigate the relative expression of carbonic anhydrase (CA), Na+/H+ exchangers (NHE), and calmodulin (CaM) genes from P. dumerilii under acidified seawater conditions (pH 7.8) induced by CO2 using qPCR.

Results: mRNA expression of CA in the CO2-induced worms was significantly up-regulated at low pH conditions (pH 7.8, 1h), suggesting changes in acid-base balance. In contrast, the expression of NHE and CaM showed no significant change. In addition, we compare these results to a previous study using inorganic acid (HCl)-induced pH changes.

Conclusions: Results suggest that carbonate chemistry has an impact on gene expression that differs from pH-associated change. To our knowledge, this is the first study that compares low pH exposure experiments using HCl and CO2 as the inducing agents.

Continue reading ‘Short-term effects of CO2-induced low pH exposure on target gene expression in Platynereis dumerilii’

Can multi-generational exposure to ocean warming and acidification lead to the adaptation of life-history and physiology in a marine metazoan?

Ocean warming and acidification are concomitant global drivers that are currently threatening the survival of marine organisms. How species will respond to these changes depends on their capacity for plastic and adaptive responses. Little is known about the mechanisms that govern plasticity and adaptability or how global changes will influence these relationships across multiple generations. Here, we exposed the emerging model marine polychaete Ophryotrocha labronica to conditions simulating ocean warming and acidification, in isolation and in combination over five generations to identify: (i) how multiple versus single global change drivers alter both juvenile and adult life-traits; (ii) the mechanistic link between adult physiological and fitness-related life-history traits; (iii) whether observed phenotypic changes observed over multiple generations are of plastic and/or adaptive origin. Two juvenile (developmental rate; survival to sexual maturity) and two adult (average reproductive body size; fecundity) life-history traits were measured in each generation, in addition to three physiological (cellular reactive oxygen species content, mitochondrial density; mitochondrial capacity) traits. We found that multi-generational exposure to warming alone caused an increase in: juvenile developmental rate, reactive oxygen species production and mitochondrial density and decreases in: average reproductive body size, fecundity and fluctuations in mitochondrial capacity, relative to control conditions. While exposure to ocean acidification alone, had only minor effects on juvenile developmental rate. Remarkably, when both drivers of global change were present, only mitochondrial capacity was significantly affected, suggesting that ocean warming and acidification act as opposing vectors of stress across multiple generations.

Continue reading ‘Can multi-generational exposure to ocean warming and acidification lead to the adaptation of life-history and physiology in a marine metazoan?’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book