Posts Tagged 'biological response'

DNA damage and oxidative stress responses of mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis to paralytic shellfish toxins under warming and acidification conditions – elucidation on the organ-specificity

Commonly affected by changes in climate and environmental conditions, coastal areas are very dynamic environments where shellfish play an important ecological role. In this study, the oxidative stress and genotoxic responses of mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) exposed to paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) – producing dinoflagellates Gymnodinium catenatum were evaluated under i) current conditions (CC: 19 °C; pH 8.0), ii) warming (W: 24 °C; pH 8.0), iii) acidification (A:19 °C; pH 7.6) and iv) combined effect of warming and acidification (WA: 24 °C; pH 7.6). Mussels were fed with G. catenatum for 5 days, and to a non-toxic diet during the following 10 days. A battery of oxidative stress biomarkers and comet assay was performed at the peak of toxin accumulation and at the end of the post-exposure phase. Under CC, gills and hepatopancreas displayed different responses/vulnerabilities and mechanisms to cope with PST. While gills presented a tendency for lipid peroxidation (LPO) and genetic damage (expressed by the Genetic Damage Indicator – GDI), hepatopancreas seems to better cope with the toxins, as no LPO was observed. However, the mechanisms involved in hepatopancreas protection were not enough to maintain DNA integrity. The absence of LPO, and the antioxidant system low responsiveness, suggests DNA damage was not oxidative. When exposed to toxic algae under W, toxin-modulated antioxidant responses were observed in both gills and hepatopancreas. Simultaneous exposure to the stressors highlighted gills susceptibility with a synergistic interaction increasing DNA damage. Exposure to toxic algae under A led to genotoxicity potentiation in both organs. The combined effect of WA did not cause relevant interactions in gills antioxidant responses, but stressors interactions impacted LPO and GDI. Antioxidant responses and LPO pointed out to be modulated by the environmental conditions in hepatopancreas, while GDI results support the dominance of toxin-triggered process. Overall, these results reveal that simultaneous exposure to warming, acidification and PSTs impairs mussel DNA integrity, compromising the genetic information due to the synergetic effects. Finally, this study highlights the increasing ecological risk of harmful algal blooms to Mytilus galloprovinciallis populations.

Continue reading ‘DNA damage and oxidative stress responses of mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis to paralytic shellfish toxins under warming and acidification conditions – elucidation on the organ-specificity’

Assessing coral reef condition indicators for local and global stressors using Bayesian networks

Coral reefs are highly valued ecosystems currently threatened by both local and global stressors. Given the importance of coral reef ecosystems, a Bayesian network approach can benefit an evaluation of threats to reef condition. To this end, we used data to evaluate the overlap between local stressors (overfishing and destructive fishing, watershed‐based pollution, marine‐based pollution, and coastal development threats), global stressors (acidification and thermal stress) and management effectiveness with indicators of coral reef health (live coral index, live coral cover, population bleaching, colony bleaching and recently killed corals). Each of the coral health indicators had Bayesian networks constructed globally and for Pacific, Atlantic, Australia, Middle East, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia coral reef locations. Sensitivity analysis helped evaluate the strength of the relationships between different stressors and reef condition indicators. The relationships between indicators and stressors were also evaluated with conditional analyses of linear and nonlinear interactions. In this process, a standardized direct effects analysis was emphasized with a target mean analysis to predict changes in the mean value of the reef indicator from individual changes to the distribution of the predictor variables. The standardized direct effects analysis identified higher risks in the Middle East for watershed‐based pollution with population bleaching and Australia for overfishing and destructive fishing with living coral. For thermal stress, colony bleaching and recently killed coral in the Indian Ocean were found to have the strongest direct associations. For acidification threat, Australia had a relatively strong association with colony bleaching and the Middle East had the strongest overall association with recently killed coral although extrapolated spatial data were used for the acidification estimates. The Bayesian network approach helped to explore the relationships among existing databases used for policy development in coral reef management by examining the sensitivity of multiple indicators of reef condition to spatially‐distributed stress.

Continue reading ‘Assessing coral reef condition indicators for local and global stressors using Bayesian networks’

Resilience of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to ocean acidification extends to the physiological level

Both juvenile and adult life stages of the temperate scleractinian coral Oculina arbuscula are resilient to the effects of moderate ocean acidification (OA) in contrast to many tropical corals in which growth and calcification rates are suppressed. Here, potential mechanisms of resilience to OA related to photosynthetic physiology and inorganic carbon processing were studied in adult O. arbuscula colonies. After exposing colonies to ambient and elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) treatments for 7 weeks, photosynthetic performance was characterized using photosynthesis versus irradiance experiments, chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics, and algal pigment content. Inorganic carbon-processing capabilities were assessed by measurement of internal and external carbonic anhydrase activity of the coral host, internal carbonic anhydrase activity of symbiotic algae, and the reliance of photosynthesis on external carbonic anhydrase. Photosynthetic physiology was unaffected by OA ruling out the possibility that resilience was mediated by increased photosynthetic energy supply. Carbonic anhydrase activities were maintained at elevated CO2 suggesting no major rearrangements of the inorganic carbon-processing machinery, but this could be a sign of resilience since tropical corals often down-regulate carbonic anhydrases at high CO2. The general lack of effect of ocean acidification on these physiological traits suggests other characteristics, such as maintenance of calcifying fluid pH and ability to acquire energy from heterotrophy, may be more important for the resilience of O. arbuscula to OA.

Continue reading ‘Resilience of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to ocean acidification extends to the physiological level’

Estuarine conditions more than pH modulate the physiological flexibility of mussel Perumytilus purpuratus populations


  • Living under estuarine conditions causes physiological stress.
  • Estuarine conditions more than pH modulated the mussel performance and phenotypic plasticity.
  • Environmental variability of the habitat determines the phenotypic plasticity.
  • Environmental conditions of native habitats define the sensibility to climate change stressors.


Coasts and their marine biota are exposed to major environmental heterogeneity as a consequence of natural drivers and anthropogenic stressors. Here, individuals of the mussel Perumytilus purpuratus from two different geographical populations exposed to contrasting environmental conditions (i.e. estuarine versus open coastal conditions) were used in a reciprocal transplant and a laboratory experiment in order to differential levels of local adaptation to their native sites, and sensibility to ocean acidification. After characterizing environmentally the two study sites, a set of life-history traits, as well as an estimated of the level of phenotypic plasticity were determined for both mussel populations. From the reciprocal transplant experiment, we observed that mussels originally coming from the estuarine habitat exhibited a distinctive performance pattern usually associated to physiological stress (i.e. higher metabolic rates, lower calcification and growth rates) leading also to important physiological trade-offs, and higher levels of phenotypic plasticity. Alternatively, mussels originating from the open coastal site showed lower physiological phenotypic plasticity suggesting a high grade of local adaptation. Contrary to expected, both populations responded very similar to lower pH conditions (i.e. increased metabolic rates with no important effects on growth and calcification, and lower physiological phenotypic plasticity). The study results indicated that overall estuarine conditions more than isolated pH would be modulating the performance and the level of phenotypic plasticity of the different P. purpuratus geographical populations studied. Our study also emphasizes the necessity of characterizing phenotypic plasticity under multiple-driver environments in order to cast more accurate predictions about the susceptibility of marine biota to future climate stressors such as the ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Estuarine conditions more than pH modulate the physiological flexibility of mussel Perumytilus purpuratus populations’

Impact of temperature increase and acidification on growth and the reproductive potential of the clam Ruditapes philippinarum using DEB


  • A simulation model based on DEB theory was parameterized for the Manila clam.
  • The pH forecast in 2100 will limit the growth of Manila clam.
  • The temperature forecast in 2100 enhances the reproductive potential of Manila clam.


We built a simulation model based on Dynamic Energy Budget theory (DEB) to assess the growth and reproductive potential of the Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum under different temperature and pH conditions, based on environmental values forecasted for the end of the 21st c. under climate change scenarios. The parameters of the DEB model were calibrated with the results of seasonal growth experiments under two levels of temperature (ambient and plus 2–3 °C) and three levels of pH (8.1 used as control and 7.7 and 7.3 representing acidification). The results showed that R. philippinarum is expected to have moderate growth in length or individual body mass (ultimate length and body weight would be larger than current values by 2–3%) when taking into account only the effect of temperature increase. However, acidification is likely to have a deleterious effect on growth, with a decrease of 2–5% length or body weight under the pH value of 7.7 forecasted for the end of the 21st c, or 10–15% under a more extreme scenario (pH = 7.3). However, the aggregated reproductive potential, integrated along a lifetime of 10 years, is likely to increase by 30% with temperature increase. Decreasing pH would impact negatively on reproductive potential, but in all simulations under warmer conditions, reproductive potential values were higher than current, suggesting that temperature increase would compensate losses due to acidification. The results are discussed in relation to their possible impact on aquaculture and fisheries of this important commercial bivalve.

Continue reading ‘Impact of temperature increase and acidification on growth and the reproductive potential of the clam Ruditapes philippinarum using DEB’

The effect of ocean acidification on the enzyme activity of Apostichopus japonicus


  • The long-time impact of ocean acidification on enzyme activity of sea cucumbers were studied.
  • The significant difference of enzyme assemblage existed among three experimental groups by the multivariate statistical results.
  • The acidic environment has a great effect on immune process by influencing the elimination of reactive oxygen species (ROS).


The influence of ocean acidification (OA) is particularly significant on calcifying organisms. The sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus is an important cultured calcifying organism in the northern China seas. Little was known about the effects of OA on this economically important species. In this study, individuals from embryo to juveniles stage of A. japonicus, cultured in different levels of acidified seawater, were measured their enzymes activities, including five metabolic enzymes and three immune enzymes. The activity of acid phosphatase (ACP) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) was significantly lower in the severely acid group (pH 7.1), while the content of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was significantly higher. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) were significantly lower in the severely acid group. The multivariate statistical results showed that the significant difference of enzyme assemblage existed among three experimental groups. This study indicated that OA could reduce the biomineralization capacity, influence the anaerobic metabolism and severely affect the immune process of A. japonicas. More researches are needed in the future to reveal the mechanisms of enzyme regulation and expression of A. japonicas underlying mixture environmental stress.

Continue reading ‘The effect of ocean acidification on the enzyme activity of Apostichopus japonicus’

Efeitos neurotóxicos do crack-cocaína combinado a cenários de acidificação oceânica no mexilhão marinho Perna perna (in Portuguese)

The oceans are undergoing physical and biogeochemical changes in response to the increasing atmospheric CO2 load and increased ocean uptake, such as surface warming, reduced oxygen and a reduction in calcium carbonate and pH saturation levels. Changes in the pH and chemical composition of seawater can modify the speciation of contaminants, interfering with their bioavailability and toxicity. The present study aimed to evaluate the sublethal effect of the illicit drug crack-cocaine at different concentrations (0.5; 5; 50 µg / L) combined with ocean acidification by CO2 at pH values of 8.1; 7.5; 7.0; 6.5 and 6.0. For this purpose, an analysis of the biomarker of neurotoxic effect acetylcholinesterase (AChe) was performed on mussels Perna perna. The inhibition of AChe after exposure to crack at pH 7.5, 7.0 and 6.5 was preliminarily observed, demonstrating a combined effect of crack-cocaine and pH reduction, which can be observed in future scenarios of acidification in coastal zones contaminated by illicit drugs.

Continue reading ‘Efeitos neurotóxicos do crack-cocaína combinado a cenários de acidificação oceânica no mexilhão marinho Perna perna (in Portuguese)’

The power struggle: assessing interacting global change stressors via experimental studies on sharks

Ocean warming and acidification act concurrently on marine ectotherms with the potential for detrimental, synergistic effects; yet, effects of these stressors remain understudied in large predatory fishes, including sharks. We tested for behavioural and physiological responses of blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) neonates to climate change relevant changes in temperature (28 and 31 °C) and carbon dioxide partial pressures (pCO2; 650 and 1050 µatm) using a fully factorial design. Behavioural assays (lateralisation, activity level) were conducted upon 7–13 days of acclimation, and physiological assays (hypoxia tolerance, oxygen uptake rates, acid–base and haematological status) were conducted upon 14–17 days of acclimation. Haematocrit was higher in sharks acclimated to 31 °C than to 28 °C. Significant treatment effects were also detected for blood lactate and minimum oxygen uptake rate; although, these observations were not supported by adequate statistical power. Inter-individual variability was considerable for all measured traits, except for haematocrit. Moving forward, studies on similarly ‘hard-to-study’ species may account for large inter-individual variability by increasing replication, testing larger, yet ecologically relevant, differences in temperature and pCO2, and reducing measurement error. Robust experimental studies on elasmobranchs are critical to meaningfully assess the threat of global change stressors in these data-deficient species.

Continue reading ‘The power struggle: assessing interacting global change stressors via experimental studies on sharks’

Eat, breathe, repeat: physiological responses of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis to Diclofenac and ocean acidification

Combined effects of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac and lowered seawater pH were assessed on the physiological responses of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Bivalves were exposed for 1 week to natural pH (8.1) and two reduced pH values (pH −0.4 units and pH −0.7 units), as predicted under a climate change scenario. After the first week, exposure continued for additional 2 weeks, both in the absence and in the presence of environmentally relevant concentrations of diclofenac (0.05 and 0.5 µg/L). Clearance rate, respiration rate, and excretion rate were measured after 7 days of exposure to pH only and after 14 (T1) and 21 (T2) days of exposure to the various pH*diclofenac combinations. At all sampling times, pH significantly affected all the biological parameters considered, whereas diclofenac generally exhibited a significant influence only at T2. Overall, results demonstrated that the physiological performance of M. galloprovincialis was strongly influenced by the experimental conditions tested, in particular by the interaction between the two stressors after 21 days of exposure. Further studies are needed to assess the combined effects of climate changes and emerging contaminants on bivalve physiology during different life stages, especially reproduction.

Continue reading ‘Eat, breathe, repeat: physiological responses of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis to Diclofenac and ocean acidification’

Irradiance, photosynthesis and elevated pCO2 effects on net calcification in tropical reef macroalgae


  • Most species from high-light environments are not able to calcifying under OA at night
  • Low-light species may be more susceptible to OA compared to high-light
  • Some species exhibit light-triggered calcification independent of photosystem II
  • Photosystem II independent calcification not sustained under OA


Calcifying tropical macroalgae produce sediment, build three-dimensional habitats, and provide substrate for invertebrate larvae on reefs. Thus, lower calcification rates under declining pH and increasing ocean pCO2, or ocean acidification, is a concern. In the present study, calcification rates were examined experimentally under predicted end-of-the-century seawater pCO2 (1116 μatm) and pH (7.67) compared to ambient controls (pCO2 409 μatm; pH 8.04). Nine reef macroalgae with diverse calcification locations, calcium carbonate structure, photophysiology, and site-specific irradiance were examined under light and dark conditions. Species included five from a high light patch reef on the Florida Keys Reef Tract (FKRT) and four species from low light reef walls on Little Cayman Island (LCI). Experiments on FKRT and LCI species were conducted at 500 and 50 μmol photons m−2 s−1 in situ irradiance, respectively. Calcification rates independent of photosystem-II (PSII) were also investigated for FKRT species. The most consistent negative effect of elevated pCO2 on calcification rates in the tropical macroalgae examined occurred in the dark. Most species (89%) had net calcification rates of zero or net dissolution in the dark at low pH. Species from the FKRT that sustained positive net calcification rates in the light at low pH also maintained ~30% of their net calcification rates without PSII at ambient pH. However, calcification rates in the light independent of PSII were not sustained at low pH. Regardless of these low pH effects, most FKRT species daily net calcification rates, integrating light/dark rates over a 24h period, were not significantly different between low and ambient pH. This was due to a 10-fold lower dark, compared to light, calcification rate, and a strong correspondence between calcification and photosynthetic rates. Interestingly, low-light species sustained calcification rates on par with high-light species without high rates of photosynthesis. Low-light species’ morphology and physiology that promote high calcification rates at ambient pH, may increase their vulnerability to low pH. Our data indicate that the negative effect of elevated pCO2 and low pH on tropical macroalgae at the organismal level is their impact on dark net calcification, probably enhanced dissolution. However, elevated pCO2 and low pH effects on macroalgae daily calcification rates are greatest in species with lower net calcification rates in the light. Thus, macroalgae able to maintain high calcification rates in the light (high and low irradiance) at low pH, and/or sustain strong biotic control with high [H+] in the bulk seawater, are expected to dominate under global change.

Continue reading ‘Irradiance, photosynthesis and elevated pCO2 effects on net calcification in tropical reef macroalgae’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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