Posts Tagged 'biological response'

Microbiome dynamics in early life stages of the scleractinian coral Acropora gemmifera in response to elevated pCO2

Reef-building corals are complex holobionts, harbouring diverse microorganisms that play essential roles in maintaining coral health. However, microbiome development in early life stages of corals remains poorly understood. Here, microbiomes of Acropora gemmifera were analysed during spawning and early developmental stages, and also under different seawater partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) conditions, using amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA gene for bacteria and archaea and of ITS2 for Symbiodinium. No remarkable microbiome shift was observed in adults before and after spawning. Moreover, microbiomes in eggs were highly similar to those in spawned adults, possibly suggesting a vertical transmission from parents to offspring. However, significant stage-specific changes were found in coral microbiome during development, indicating that host development played a dominant role in shaping coral microbiome. Specifically, Cyanobacteria were particularly abundant in 6-day-old juveniles, but decreased largely in 31-day-old juveniles with a possible subclade shift in Symbiodinium dominance from C2r to D17. Larval microbiome showed changes in elevated pCO2, while juvenile microbiomes remained rather stable in response to higher pCO2. This study provides novel insights into the microbiome development during the critical life stages of coral.

Continue reading ‘Microbiome dynamics in early life stages of the scleractinian coral Acropora gemmifera in response to elevated pCO2’

Effect of CO2 on growth and toxicity of Alexandrium tamarense from the East China Sea, a major producer of paralytic shellfish toxins


  • Strain of Alexandrium tamarense isolated from East China Seas, showed a significant response to elevated CO2 levels in growth and toxicity.
  • Strain ATDH grew faster and showed a larger density when exposed to elevated CO2 concentration, especially in the exponential period.
  • The concentration per cell of each PST derivate varied and eventually caused the cellular toxicity increased when exposed to higher pCO2.


In recent decades, the frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms (HABs), as well as a profusion of toxic phytoplankton species, have significantly increased in coastal regions of China. Researchers attribute this to environmental changes such as rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Such addition of carbon into the ocean ecosystem can lead to increased growth, enhanced metabolism, and altered toxicity of toxic phytoplankton communities resulting in serious human health concerns. In this study, the effects of elevated partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) on the growth and toxicity of a strain of Alexandrium tamarense (ATDH) widespread in the East and South China Seas were investigated. Results of these studies showed a higher specific growth rate (0.31 ± 0.05 day−1) when exposed to 1000 μatm CO2, (experimental), with a corresponding density of (2.02 ± 0.19) × 107 cells L−1, that was significantly larger than cells under 395 μatm CO2(control). These data also revealed that elevated pCO2 primarily affected the photosynthetic properties of cells in the exponential growth phase. Interestingly, measurement of the total toxin content per cell was reduced by half under elevated CO2 conditions. The following individual toxins were measured in this study: C1, C2, GTX1, GTX2, GTX3, GTX4, GTX5, STX, dcGTX2, dcGTX3, and dcSTX. Cells grown in 1000 μatm CO2 showed an overall decrease in the cellular concentrations of C1, C2, GTX2, GTX3, GTX5, STX, dcGTX2, dcGTX3, and dcSTX, but an increase in GTX1 and GTX4. Total cellular toxicity per cell was measured revealing an increase of nearly 60% toxicity in the presence of elevated CO2 compared to controls. This unusual result was attributed to a significant increase in the cellular concentrations of the more toxic derivatives, GTX1 and GTX4.Taken together; these findings indicate that the A. tamarense strain ATDH isolated from the East China Sea significantly increased in growth and cellular toxicity under elevated pCO2 levels. These data may provide vital information regarding future HABs and the corresponding harmful effects as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2.

Continue reading ‘Effect of CO2 on growth and toxicity of Alexandrium tamarense from the East China Sea, a major producer of paralytic shellfish toxins’

Metabolic response and thermal tolerance of green abalone juveniles (Haliotis fulgens: Gastropoda) under acute hypoxia and hypercapnia


  • Assessment of the impacts of hypoxia and hypercapnia on thermal tolerance
  • Hypoxia induced a downshift in critical temperature.
  • Hypercapnia did not affect thermal tolerance.
  • Both drivers combined prompted a stronger narrowing of thermal tolerance.
  • Warming stress induced protein degradation under all experimental conditions.


With ongoing climate change, rising ocean temperature is usually accompanied by falling oxygen levels (hypoxia) and increasing CO2 concentration (hypercapnia). Both drivers may impose constraints on physiological mechanisms that define thermal limits resulting in increased vulnerability towards warming in marine ectotherms. The present study aimed to detect differences in thermal tolerance by investigating the underlying metabolic responses in the green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) under conditions of hypoxia and hypercapnia. Juvenile abalones were exposed to a temperature ramp (+ 3 °C day− 1) under hypoxia (50% air saturation) and hypercapnia (~ 1000 μatm pCO2), both individually and in combination. Impacts on energy metabolism were assessed by analyzing whole animal respiration rates and metabolic profiles of gills and hepatopancreas via 1H NMR spectroscopy. While hypercapnia had a minor impact on the results of the temperature treatment, hypoxia strongly increased the vulnerability to warming, indicated by respiration rates falling below values expected from an exponential increase and by the onset of anaerobic metabolism suggesting a downward shift of the upper critical temperature. Warming under combined hypoxia and hypercapnia elicited a severe change in metabolism involving a strong accumulation of amino acids, osmolytes and anaerobic end products at intermediate temperatures, followed by declining concentrations at warmer temperatures. This matched the limited capacity to increase metabolic rate, loss of attachment and mortality observed under these conditions suggesting a strong narrowing of the thermal window. In all cases, the accumulation of free amino acids identified proteins as a significant energy source during warming stress.

Continue reading ‘Metabolic response and thermal tolerance of green abalone juveniles (Haliotis fulgens: Gastropoda) under acute hypoxia and hypercapnia’

Low recruitment due to altered settlement substrata as primary constraint for coral communities under ocean acidification

The future of coral reefs under increasing CO2 depends on their capacity to recover from disturbances. To predict the recovery potential of coral communities that are fully acclimatized to elevated CO2, we compared the relative success of coral recruitment and later life stages at two volcanic CO2 seeps and adjacent control sites in Papua New Guinea. Our field experiments showed that the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on coral recruitment rates were up to an order of magnitude greater than the effects on the survival and growth of established corals. Settlement rates, recruit and juvenile densities were best predicted by the presence of crustose coralline algae, as opposed to the direct effects of seawater CO2. Offspring from high CO2 acclimatized parents had similarly impaired settlement rates as offspring from control parents. For most coral taxa, field data showed no evidence of cumulative and compounding detrimental effects of high CO2 on successive life stages, and three taxa showed improved adult performance at high CO2 that compensated for their low recruitment rates. Our data suggest that severely declining capacity for reefs to recover, due to altered settlement substrata and reduced coral recruitment, is likely to become a dominant mechanism of how OA will alter coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Low recruitment due to altered settlement substrata as primary constraint for coral communities under ocean acidification’

The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages


  • Higher seawater temperature did not effect meiofaunal abundance.
  • Lower seawater pH did reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness.
  • Nematode assemblages showed increased dominance under a future OW/OA scenario.


Climate change due to increased anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is causing an increase in seawater temperatures referred to as ocean warming and a decrease in seawater pH, referred to as ocean acidification. The meiofauna play an important role in the ecology of marine ecosystems and the functions they provide. Using microcosms, meiofaunal assemblages were exposed to two temperatures (15 and 19 °C) and two pHs (pCO2 of 400 and 1000 ppm), both individually and in combination, for a period of 90 days. The hypothesis that increased temperature will increase meiofaunal abundance was not supported. The hypothesis that a reduced pH will reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness was supported. The combination of future conditions of temperature and pH (19 °C and pCO2 of 1000 ppm) did not affect overall abundance but the structure of the nematode assemblage changed becoming dominated by a few opportunistic species.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages’

The sibling polychaetes Platynereis dumerilii and Platynereis massiliensis in the Mediterranean Sea: are phylogeographic patterns related to exposure to ocean acidification?

High pCO2 environments, such as volcanic carbon dioxide (CO2) vents, which mimic predicted near-future scenarios of ocean acidification (OA), offer an opportunity to examine effects of low pH conditions on marine biodiversity and adaptation/acclimatization of marine organisms to such conditions. Based on previous field studies in these systems, it is predicted that the stress owing to increasing CO2 concentrations favours the colonization by invertebrate species with a brooding habit. The goal of this study was to investigate the relative occurrence of the two sibling species Platynereis dumerilii (Audouin & Milne-Edwards, 1834) (free spawner) and Platynereis massiliensis (Moquin-Tandon, 1869) (egg brooder) in two shallow CO2 vents off Ischia and Vulcano islands (Italy, Tyrrhenian Sea), and in various areas with ambient pH conditions, where they represent one of the dominant genera. Phylogeographic analyses were integrated with reproductive biology and life-history observations on some selected populations thriving in the vent areas. This approach revealed the presence of four distinct Platynereis clades. Whereas two clades primarily inhabit CO2 vents and are presumably all brooders, the other two clades dominate the non-acidified sites and appear to be epitokous free spawners. We postulate that one of the brooding, vent-inhabiting clades represents P. massiliensis and one of the free spawning, non-vent-inhabiting clades represents P. dumerilii, although confirmation of the species status with sequence data from the respective-type localities would be desirable.

Continue reading ‘The sibling polychaetes Platynereis dumerilii and Platynereis massiliensis in the Mediterranean Sea: are phylogeographic patterns related to exposure to ocean acidification?’

Ocean acidification impacts the embryonic development and hatching success of the Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria


  • Lower seawater pH slowed the rate of stone crab embryonic development by 24%.
  • Lower seawater pH also significantly reduced stone crab hatching success.
  • Reduced pH had no effect on larval morphology.
  • Variability in the hatching suggests the potential for acclimatization within the species.


The deterioration of coastal habitats due to anthropogenic activities is being caused by nutrient rich runoff which will likely result in more frequent and severe extremes in seawater pH. The embryonic and larval stages of many coastal species may not have the physiological ability to tolerate these extreme shifts in pH forecasted for future oceans. The stone crab, Menippe mercenaria, was used to determine the impact of low seawater pH on embryonic development and hatching success. Ovigerous females were maintained in environments characteristic of both present-day and reduced seawater pH. Lower pH significantly reduced the rate of embryonic development (i.e., time to hatching) by ~ 24%, but had no effect on the size of developing embryos (i.e., embryonic volume). Larvae that successfully hatched were not morphologically different between treatments, although hatching success was reduced by 28% in lower pH seawater. Hatching success was also more variable in the reduced pH treatment indicating that some broods may be more tolerant to changes in seawater acidity. Variable hatching success under acidified conditions suggests that stone crab embryos may have the capacity to acclimatize to future seawater pH conditions.


Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification impacts the embryonic development and hatching success of the Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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