Posts Tagged 'biological response'

Biomonitoring acidification using marine gastropods


• Data loggers offer limited coverage of acidification in marine ecosystems.

• Intertidal water pH was reflected in organismal attributes of gastropods.

• Shell surface erosion presents a clear estimate of corrosive water exposure.

• Gastropod biomonitoring can identify coastal areas of more or lesser acidification.


Ocean acidification is mainly being monitored using data loggers which currently offer limited coverage of marine ecosystems. Here, we trial the use of gastropod shells to monitor acidification on rocky shores. Animals living in areas with highly variable pH (8.6–5.9) were compared with those from sites with more stable pH (8.6–7.9). Differences in site pH were reflected in size, shape and erosion patterns in Nerita chamaeleon and Planaxis sulcatus. Shells from acidified sites were shorter, more globular and more eroded, with both of these species proving to be good biomonitors. After an assessment of baseline weathering, shell erosion can be used to indicate the level of exposure of organisms to corrosive water, providing a tool for biomonitoring acidification in heterogeneous intertidal systems. A shell erosion ranking system was found to clearly discriminate between acidified and reference sites. Being spatially-extensive, this approach can identify coastal areas of greater or lesser acidification. Cost-effective and simple shell erosion ranking is amenable to citizen science projects and could serve as an early-warning-signal for natural or anthropogenic acidification of coastal waters.

Continue reading ‘Biomonitoring acidification using marine gastropods’

Limits and patterns of acid-base regulation during elevated environmental CO2 in fish


• High aquatic CO2 may pose challenges to extra- and intra-cellular pH regulation in fish

• In this review we discuss the putative limits to extracellular pH regulation in fish and how some species use a strategy referred to as ‘preferential intracellular pH regulation’ to maintain pH homeostasis during exposure to CO2 tensions beyond their capacity for extracellular pH regulation.


Aquatic CO2 tensions may exceed 30–60 Torr (ca. 30,000–79,000 μatm, respectively; hypercarbia) in some environments inducing severe acid-base challenges in fish. Typically, during exposure to hypercarbia blood pH (pHe) is initially reduced and then compensated in association with an increase in plasma HCO3– in exchange for Cl−. Typically, intracellular pH (pHi) is reduced and recovery is to some degree coupled to pHe recovery (coupled pH regulation). However, during acute hypercarbia, pHe recovery has been proposed to be limited by an “apparent upper bicarbonate threshold”, restricting complete pHe recovery to below 15 Torr PCO2. At PCO2 values beyond that which fish can compensate pHe, some fish are able to fully protect pHi despite large sustained reductions in pHe (preferential pHi regulation) and can tolerate PCO2 > 45 Torr. This review discusses pHe and pHi regulation during exposure to hypercarbia starting with modeling the capacity and theoretical limit to pHe compensation in 19 studies. Next, we discuss how fish compensate severe acute hypercarbia exposures beyond the putative limit of pHe compensation using preferential pHi regulation which has recently been observed to be common among fish subjected to severe hypercarbia. Finally, we consider the evolution of pH regulatory strategies in vertebrates, including how the presence of preferential pHi regulation in embryonic reptiles may indicate that it is an embryonic trait that is either lost or retained in adult vertebrates and may have served as an exaptation for evolutionary transitions during vertebrate evolution.

Continue reading ‘Limits and patterns of acid-base regulation during elevated environmental CO2 in fish’

Climate change and bivalve mass mortality in temperate regions

One of the fastest-growing global food sectors is the bivalve aquaculture industry. Bivalves particularly oysters, mussels and clams are important sources of animal protein (Tan and Ransangan 2016a, b). Bivalve aquaculture represents 14–16% of the average per capita animal protein for 1.5 billion people and supports over 200,000 livelihoods, mostly in developing countries (FAO 2018). Most of the bivalves produced around the world (89%) are from aquaculture (FAO 2016). To date, mollusc aquaculture have accounted for 21.42% (17.14 million tonnes) of the total aquaculture production, with Asia being the largest contributor (92.27%) (FAO 2018).

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Ocean acidification has little effect on the biochemical composition of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

Owing to the hierarchical organization of biology, from genomes over transcriptomes and proteomes down to metabolomes, there is continuous debate about the extent to which data and interpretations derived from one level, e.g. the transcriptome, are in agreement with other levels, e.g. the metabolome. Here, we tested the effect of ocean acidification (OA; 400 vs. 1000 μatm CO2) and its modulation by light intensity (50 vs. 300 μmol photons m-2 s-1) on the biomass composition (represented by 75 key metabolites) of diploid and haploid life-cycle stages of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (RCC1216 and RCC1217) and compared these data with interpretations from previous physiological and gene expression screenings. The metabolite patterns showed minor responses to OA in both life-cycle stages. Whereas previous gene expression analyses suggested that the observed increased biomass buildup derived from lipid and carbohydrate storage, this dataset suggests that OA slightly increases overall biomass of cells, but does not significantly alter their metabolite composition. Generally, light was shown to be a more dominant driver of metabolite composition than OA, increasing the relative abundances of amino acids, mannitol and storage lipids, and shifting pigment contents to accommodate increased irradiance levels. The diploid stage was shown to contain vastly more osmolytes and mannitol than the haploid stage, which in turn had a higher relative content of amino acids, especially aromatic ones. Besides the differences between the investigated cell types and the general effects on biomass buildup, our analyses indicate that OA imposes only negligible effects on E. huxleyi´s biomass composition.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification has little effect on the biochemical composition of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi’

Future CO2-induced ocean acidification enhances resilience of a green tide alga to low-salinity stress

To understand how Ulva species might respond to salinity stress during future ocean acidification we cultured a green tide alga Ulva linza at various salinities (control salinity, 30 PSU; medium salinity, 20 PSU; low salinity, 10 PSU) and CO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 ppmv) for over 30 days. The results showed that, under the low salinity conditions, the thalli could not complete its whole life cycle. The specific growth rate (SGR) of juvenile thalli decreased significantly with reduced salinity but increased with a rise in CO2. Compared to the control, medium salinity also decreased the SGR of adult thalli at low CO2 but did not affect it at high CO2. Similar patterns were also found in relative electron transport rate (rETR), non-photochemical quenching, saturating irradiance, and Chl b content. Although medium salinity reduced net photosynthetic rate and maximum rETR at each CO2 level, these negative effects were significantly alleviated at high CO2 levels. In addition, nitrate reductase activity was reduced by medium salinity but enhanced by high CO2. These findings indicate that future ocean acidification would enhance U. linza’s tolerance to low salinity stress and may thus facilitate the occurrence of green tides dominated by U. linza.

Continue reading ‘Future CO2-induced ocean acidification enhances resilience of a green tide alga to low-salinity stress’

Cryptic genetic variation underpins rapid adaptation to ocean acidification

Global climate change has intensified the need to assess the capacity for natural populations to adapt to abrupt shifts in the environment. Reductions in seawater pH constitute a conspicuous stressor associated with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide that is affecting ecosystems throughout the world’s oceans. Here, we quantify the phenotypic and genetic modifications associated with rapid adaptation to reduced seawater pH in the marine mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis. We reared a genetically diverse larval population in ambient and extreme low pH conditions (pHT 8.1 and 7.4) and tracked changes in the larval size and allele frequency distributions through settlement. Additionally, we separated larvae by size to link a fitness-related trait to its underlying genetic background in each treatment. Both phenotypic and genetic data show that M. galloprovincialis can evolve in response to a decrease in seawater pH. This process is polygenic and characterized by genotype-environment interactions, suggesting the role of cryptic genetic variation in adaptation to future climate change. Holistically, this work provides insight into the processes underpinning rapid evolution, and demonstrates the importance of maintaining standing variation within natural populations to bolster species’ adaptive capacity as global change progresses.

Continue reading ‘Cryptic genetic variation underpins rapid adaptation to ocean acidification’

Fate of Mediterranean Scleractinian cold-water corals as a result of global climate change. A synthesis

This chapter addresses the question as to how Mediterranean cold-water corals might fare in the future under anthropogenically-induced global climate change. The focus on three most prominent scleractinian cold-water corals species, the two branching and habitat-forming forms Madrepora oculata, Lophelia pertusa and the solitary cup coral Desmophyllum dianthus. We provide an introduction to climate change principals, highlight the current status of the marine environment with regard to global climate change, and describe how climate change impacts such as ocean acidification are predicted to affect key calcifiers such as scleractinian cold-water corals in the Mediterranean region. A synthesis of the experimental cold-water coral studies conducted to date on climate change impacts: The present state of knowledge reviewed in this chapter takes into account the number of experiments that have been carried out in the Mediterranean as well as for comparative purposes in other parts of the world, to examine the effects of climate change on the corals. We assess the statistical robustness of these experiments and what challenges the presented experiments. A comprehensive multi-study comparison is provided in order to inform on the present state of knowledge, and knowledge gaps, in understanding the effects of global climate change on cold-water corals. Finally we describe what the fate could be for the important scleractinian coral group in the Mediterranean region.

Continue reading ‘Fate of Mediterranean Scleractinian cold-water corals as a result of global climate change. A synthesis’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book