Posts Tagged 'biological response'

Ocean acidification affects the response of the coastal coccolithophore Pleurochrysis carterae to irradiance

The ecologically important marine phytoplankton group coccolithophores have a global distribution. The impacts of ocean acidification on the cosmopolitan species Emiliania huxleyi have received much attention and have been intensively studied. However, the species-specific responses of coccolithophores and how these responses will be regulated by other environmental drivers are still largely unknown. To examine the interactive effects of irradiance and ocean acidification on the physiology of the coastal coccolithophore species Pleurochrysis carterae, we carried out a semi-continuous incubation experiment under a range of irradiances (50, 200, 500, 800 μmol photons m−2 s−1) at two CO2 concentration conditions of 400 and 800 ppm. The results suggest that the saturation irradiance for the growth rate was higher at an elevated CO2 concentration. Ocean acidification weakened the particulate organic carbon (POC) production of Pleurochrysis carterae and the inhibition rate was decreased with increasing irradiance, indicating that ocean acidification may affect the tolerating capacity of photosynthesis to higher irradiance. Our results further provide new insight into the species-specific responses of coccolithophores to the projected ocean acidification under different irradiance scenarios in the changing marine environment.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification affects the response of the coastal coccolithophore Pleurochrysis carterae to irradiance’

Impacts of ocean warming and acidification on predator-prey interactions in the intertidal zone: a research weaving approach

The effect of ocean warming and acidification on predator-prey interactions in the intertidal zone is a topic of growing concern for the scientific community. In this review, we aim to describe how scientists have explored the topic via research weaving, a combination of a systematic review, and a bibliometric approach. We assess articles published in the last decade exploring the impact of both stressors on predation in the intertidal zone, via experimental or observational techniques. Several methods were used to delve into how climate change-induced stress affected intertidal predation, as the study design leaned toward single-based driver trials to the detriment of a multi-driver approach. Mollusks, echinoderms, and crustaceans have been extensively used as model organisms, with little published data on other invertebrates, vertebrates, and algae taxa. Moreover, there is a strong web of co-authoring across institutions and countries from the Northern Hemisphere, that can skew our understanding towards temperate environments. Therefore, institutions and countries should increase participation in the southern hemisphere networking, assessing the problems under a global outlook. Our review also addresses the various impacts of ocean acidification, warming, or their interaction with predation-related variables, affecting organisms from the genetic to a broader ecological scope, such as animal behaviour or interspecific interactions. Finally, we argue that the numerous synonyms used in keywording articles in the field, possibly hurting future reviews in the area, as we provide different keyword standardizations. Our findings can help guide upcoming approaches to the topic by assessing what has been already done and revealing gaps in emerging themes, like a strong skew towards single-driver (specially acidification) lab experiments of northern hemisphere organisms and a lack of field multi-stressor experiments.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of ocean warming and acidification on predator-prey interactions in the intertidal zone: a research weaving approach’

Fermentative iron reduction buffers acidification and promotes microbial metabolism in marine sediments

Microbial iron reduction is a crucial process in natural ecosystems, contributing to the cycling of elements and supporting the biological activities of organisms. However, the significance of fermentative iron reduction in marine environments and microbial metabolism remains understudied compared with iron reduction coupled with respiration. The main objective of our study was to investigate the influence of fermentative iron reduction on microbial populations and marine sediment. Our findings revealed a robust iron-reducing activity in the enriched marine sediment, demonstrating a maximum ferrihydrite-reducing rate of 0.063 mmol/h. Remarkably, ferrihydrite reduction exhibited an intriguing pH-buffering effect through the release of OH+ and Fe2+ ions, distinct from fermentation alone. This effect resulted in substantial improvements in glucose consumption (71.4%), bacterial growth (48.1%), and metabolite production (80.8%). To further validate the acidification-buffering and metabolism-promoting effects of ferrihydrite reduction, we conducted iron-reducing experiments using a pure strain, Clostridium pasteurianum DMS525. The observed pH-buffering effect resulted from microbial iron reduction in marine sediment and has potential environmental implications by reducing CO2 emissions, mitigating acidification, and preserving the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Fermentative iron reduction buffers acidification and promotes microbial metabolism in marine sediments’

The estuarine environment and pH variation: natural limits and experimental observation of the acidification effect on phosphorus bioavailability (in Portuguese)

This study shows the variation of pH in the Cananéia-Iguape Estuarine-Lagoon Complex (CIELC). Data from 3 years (2019, 2021, 2022) were obtained in 17 points presenting the following ranges: temperature (14.88-27.05 ºC), pH (7.16-8.40) and DIP (0.20-11.28 µmol L-1) along a saline gradient (0.05-32.09) under different hydrodynamics, biogeochemical processes and anthropogenic influence. The pH buffering capacity due to the presence of weak acid salts in saline water (S ≥ 30) was associated to the lowest DIP, decreasing with low salinity values, confirming the direct correlation among salinity and pH. The highest temperatures in the winter of 2021, corroborated with the abnormal climate event in that year. An in vitro experiment showed results of the interaction of PID and sediments with different textures, with and without the presence of the benthic microbiota under a considerable decreasing of the pH (acidification) in relation to the natural condition of this environment. The P sediment flux characterized Iguape sector as a P sink with or without biota, Ararapira sector as a P source with biota and Cananéia, as P source without biota. The salt water buffered the pH and sediment buffered DIP both associated to the biogeochemical and hydrodynamic processes contribute to the homeostasis in the system.

Continue reading ‘The estuarine environment and pH variation: natural limits and experimental observation of the acidification effect on phosphorus bioavailability (in Portuguese)’

Ocean acidification reduces iodide production by the marine diatom Chaetoceros sp. (CCMP 1690)


  • Ocean acidification had no effect on growth rates of the diatom Chaetoceros sp. CCMP (1690) but higher cell yield under high CO2.
  • Ocean acidifcation has the potential to inhibit the diatom-mediated iodate to iodide reduction process.
  • Iodide production was decoupled from iodate uptake and refute the proposed link between iodide produced and cell membrane permeability.


Phytoplankton in marine surface waters play a key role in the global iodine cycle. The biologically-mediated iodide production under future scenarios is limited. Here we compare growth, iodate to iodide conversion rate and membrane permeability in the diatom Chaetoceros sp. (CCMP 1690) grown under seawater carbonate chemistry conditions projected for 2100 (1000 ppm) and pre-industrial (280 ppm) conditions. We found no effect of CO2 on growth rates, but a significantly higher cell yield under high CO2, suggesting sustained growth from relief from carbon limitation. Cell normalised iodate uptake (16.73 ± 0.92 amol IO3 cell−1) and iodide production (8.61 ± 0.15 amol I cell−1) was lower in cultures grown at high pCO2 than those exposed to pre-industrial conditions (21.29 ± 2.37 amol IO3 cell−1, 11.91 ± 1.49 amol I cell−1, respectively). Correlating these measurements with membrane permeability, we were able to ascertain that iodide conversion rates were not linked to cell permeability and that the processes of mediated iodate loss and diatom-iodide formation are decoupled. These findings are the first to implicate OA in driving a potential shift in diatom-mediated iodate reduction. If our results are indicative of diatom-mediated iodine cycling in 2100, future surface ocean conditions could experience reduced rates of iodide production by Chaetoceros spp., potentially lowering iodide concentrations in ocean regions dominated by this group. These changes have the potential to impact ozone cycling and new particle formation in the atmosphere.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification reduces iodide production by the marine diatom Chaetoceros sp. (CCMP 1690)’

The combined effect of pH and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations on the physiology of plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum and its cryptophyte prey

Ocean acidification is caused by rising atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and involves a lowering of pH combined with increased concentrations of CO2 and dissolved in organic carbon in ocean waters. Many studies investigated the consequences of these combined changes on marine phytoplankton, yet only few attempted to separate the effects of decreased pH and increased pCO2. Moreover, studies typically target photoautotrophic phytoplankton, while little is known of plastidic protists that depend on the ingestion of plastids from their prey. Therefore, we studied the separate and interactive effects of pH and DIC levels on the plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum, which is known to form red tides in coastal waters worldwide. Also, we tested the effects on their prey, which typically are cryptophytes belonging to the Teleaulax/Plagioslemis/Geminigera species complex. These cryptophytes not only serve as food for the ciliate, but also as a supplier of chloroplasts and prey nuclei. We exposed M. rubrum and the two cryptophyte species, T. acuta, T. amphioxeia to different pH (6.8 – 8) and DIC levels (∼ 6.5 – 26 mg C L-1) and assessed their growth and photosynthetic rates, and cellular chlorophyll a and elemental contents. Our findings did not show consistent significant effects across the ranges in pH and/or DIC, except for M. rubrum, for which growth was negatively affected only by the lowest pH of 6.8 combined with lower DIC concentrations. It thus seems that M. rubrum is largely resilient to changes in pH and DIC, and its blooms may not be strongly impacted by the changes in ocean carbonate chemistry projected for the end of the 21th century.

Continue reading ‘The combined effect of pH and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations on the physiology of plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum and its cryptophyte prey’

Predicting the impacts of climate change on New Zealand’s seaweed-based ecosystems

The impacts of global climate change are threatening the health and integrity of New Zealand’s seaweed ecosystems that provide crucial ecological, economic, and cultural benefits. Important species that comprise these ecosystems include canopy forming large brown algae (fucoids and kelp), and understorey species. Here we review current knowledge of the measured impacts of climate change stressors on New Zealand seaweeds. Ocean warming has driven increasing frequencies, durations, and intensities of marine heatwaves globally and in New Zealand. Significant negative impacts resulting from heatwaves have already been observed on New Zealand’s canopy forming brown algae (giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera and bull kelp Durvillaea spp.). We predict that ongoing ocean warming and associated marine heatwaves will alter the distributional range and basic physiology of many seaweed species, with poleward range shifts for many species. Increased extreme weather events causes accelerated erosion of sediments into the marine environment and re-suspension of these sediments, termed coastal darkening, which has reduced the growth rates and available vertical space on rocky reefs in New Zealand and is predicted to worsen in the future. Furthermore, ocean acidification will reduce the growth and recruitment of coralline algae, this may reduce the settlement success of many marine invertebrate larvae. Mechanistic underpinnings of the effects of multiple drivers occurring in combination is poorly described. Finally, local stressors, such as overfishing, will likely interact with global change in these ecosystems. Thus, we predict very different futures for New Zealand seaweed ecosystems depending on whether they are managed appropriately or not. Given recent increases in sea surface temperatures and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events in some regions of New Zealand, predicting the impacts of climate change on seaweeds and the important communities they support is becoming increasingly important for conserving resilient seaweed ecosystems in the future.

Continue reading ‘Predicting the impacts of climate change on New Zealand’s seaweed-based ecosystems’

Simultaneous warming and acidification limit population fitness and reveal phenotype costs for a marine copepod

Phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary adaptation allow populations to cope with global change, but limits and costs to adaptation under multiple stressors are insufficiently understood. We reared a foundational copepod species, Acartia hudsonica, under ambient (AM), ocean warming (OW), ocean acidification (OA), and combined ocean warming and acidification (OWA) conditions for 11 generations (approx. 1 year) and measured population fitness (net reproductive rate) derived from six life-history traits (egg production, hatching success, survival, development time, body size and sex ratio). Copepods under OW and OWA exhibited an initial approximately 40% fitness decline relative to AM, but fully recovered within four generations, consistent with an adaptive response and demonstrating synergy between stressors. At generation 11, however, fitness was approximately 24% lower for OWA compared with the AM lineage, consistent with the cost of producing OWA-adapted phenotypes. Fitness of the OWA lineage was not affected by reversal to AM or low food environments, indicating sustained phenotypic plasticity. These results mimic those of a congener, Acartia tonsa, while additionally suggesting that synergistic effects of simultaneous stressors exert costs that limit fitness recovery but can sustain plasticity. Thus, even when closely related species experience similar stressors, species-specific costs shape their unique adaptive responses.

Continue reading ‘Simultaneous warming and acidification limit population fitness and reveal phenotype costs for a marine copepod’

Physiological and ecological tipping points caused by ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is predicted to cause profound shifts in many marine ecosystems by impairing the ability of calcareous taxa to calcify and grow, and by influencing the photo-physiology of many others. In both calcifying and non-calcifying taxa, ocean acidification could further impair the ability of marine life to regulate internal pH, and thus metabolic function and/or behaviour. Identifying tipping points at which these effects will occur for different taxa due to the direct impacts of ocean acidification on organism physiology is difficult and they have not adequately been determined for most taxa, nor for ecosystems at higher levels. This is due to the presence of both resistant and sensitive species within most taxa. However, calcifying taxa such as coralline algae, corals, molluscs, and sea urchins appear to be most sensitive to ocean acidification. Conversely, non-calcareous seaweeds, seagrasses, diatoms, cephalopods, and fish tend to be more resistant, or even benefit from the direct effects of ocean acidification. While physiological tipping points of the effects of ocean acidification either do not exist or are not well defined, their direct effects on organism physiology will have flow on indirect effects. These indirect effects will cause ecologically tipping points in the future through changes in competition, herbivory and predation. Evidence for indirect effects and ecological change is mostly taken from benthic ecosystems in warm temperate–tropical locations in situ that have elevated CO2. Species abundances at these locations indicate a shift away from calcifying taxa and towards non-calcareous at high CO2 concentrations. For example, lower abundance of corals and coralline algae, and higher covers of non-calcareous macroalgae, often turfing species, at elevated CO2. However, there are some locations where only minor changes, or no detectable change occurs. Where ecological tipping points do occur, it is usually at locations with naturally elevated pCO2 concentrations of 500 μatm or more, which also corresponds to just under that concentrations where the direct physiological impacts of ocean acidification are detectable on the most sensitive taxa in laboratory research (coralline algae and corals). Collectively, the available data support the concern that ocean acidification will most likely cause ecological change in the near future in most benthic marine ecosystems, with tipping points in some ecosystems at as low as 500 μatm pCO2. However, much more further research is required to more adequately quantify and model the extent of these impacts in order to accurately project future marine ecosystem tipping points under ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and ecological tipping points caused by ocean acidification’

Differential reaction norms to ocean acidification in two oyster species from contrasting habitats

Ocean acidification (OA), a consequence of the increase in anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, causes major changes in the chemistry of carbonates in the ocean with deleterious effects on calcifying organisms. The pH/pCO2 range to which species are exposed in nature is important to consider when interpreting the response of coastal organisms to OA. In this context, emerging approaches, which assess the reaction norms of organisms to a wide pH gradient, are improving our understanding of tolerance thresholds and acclimation potential to OA. In this study, we decipher the reaction norms of two oyster species living in contrasting habitats: the intertidal oyster Crassostrea gigas and the subtidal flat oyster Ostrea edulis, which are two economically and ecologically valuable species in temperate ecosystems. Six-month-old oysters of each species were exposed in common garden for 48 days to a pH gradient ranging from 7.7 to 6.4 (total scale). Both species are tolerant down to a pH of 6.6 with high plasticity in fitness-related traits such as survival and growth. However, oysters undergo remodelling of membrane fatty acids to cope with decreasing pH along with shell bleaching impairing shell integrity and consequently animal fitness. Finally, our work reveals species-specific physiological responses and highlights that intertidal C. gigas seems to have a better acclimation potential to rapid and extreme OA changes than O. edulis. Overall, our study provides important data about the phenotypic plasticity and its limits in two oyster species, which is essential for assessing the challenges posed to marine organisms by OA.

Continue reading ‘Differential reaction norms to ocean acidification in two oyster species from contrasting habitats’

Ocean acidification influences the gene expression and physiology of two Caribbean bioeroding sponges

Introduction: Coral reef ecosystems are experiencing increased rates of carbonate dissolution due to losses in live coral cover coupled with the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on coral reef calcifiers and bioeroders. While the stimulating effect of OA on bioerosion has been demonstrated experimentally, predominantly in the Pacific, the underlying physiological and molecular mechanisms behind the response are still poorly understood.

Methods: To address this, we subjected common zooxanthellate (Cliona varians) and azooxanthellate (Pione lampa) Caribbean sponges to pre-industrial (8.15 pH), present-day (8.05 pH), and two future OA scenarios (moderate OA, 7.85 pH; extreme OA, 7.75 pH) and evaluated their physiological and transcriptomic responses.

Results: The influence of OA on sponge bioerosion was nonlinear for both species, with the greatest total bioerosion and chemical dissolution rates found in the 7.85 pH treatment, then not increasing further under the more extreme 7.75 pH conditions. A trend towards reduced bioerosion rates in the 7.75 pH treatment occurred regardless of the presence of algal symbionts and suggests that the sponges may become physiologically impaired under prolonged OA exposure, resulting in diminished bioerosion potential. These findings were supported by the RNA-seq analysis, which revealed differentially expressed genes involved in a stress response to OA, in particular, suppressed metabolism.

Discussion: This may indicate that the sponges had reallocated energy resources towards more critical physiological needs in response to OA as a survival mechanism under stressful conditions. These data reveal that while the bioerosion rates of excavating sponges in Caribbean reef ecosystems may increase under moderate OA scenarios, this OA-stimulation may plateau or be lost at extreme end-of-century pH conditions, with implications for the dissolution and long-term persistence of reef habitat structures.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification influences the gene expression and physiology of two Caribbean bioeroding sponges’

Microbial communities inhabiting shallow hydrothermal vents as sentinels of acidification processes

Introduction: Shallow hydrothermal vents are considered natural laboratories to study the effects of acidification on biota, due to the consistent CO2 emissions with a consequent decrease in the local pH.

Methods: Here the microbial communities of water and sediment samples from Levante Bay (Vulcano Island) with different pH and redox conditions were explored by Next Generation Sequencing techniques. The taxonomic structure was elucidated and compared with previous studies from the same area in the last decades.

Results and discussion: The results revealed substantial shifts in the taxonomic structure of both bacterial and archaeal communities, with special relevance in the sediment samples, where the effects of external parameters probably act for a long time. The study demonstrates that microbial communities could be used as indicators of acidification processes, by shaping the entire biogeochemical balance of the ecosystem in response to stress factors. The study contributes to understanding how much these communities can tell us about future changes in marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Microbial communities inhabiting shallow hydrothermal vents as sentinels of acidification processes’

Response of foraminifera Ammonia confertitesta (T6) to ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation – an experimental approach

Ocean acidification, warmer temperatures, and the expansion of hypoxic zones in coastal areas are direct consequences of the increase in anthropogenic activities. However, so far, the combined effects of these stressors on calcium carbonate-secreting marine microorganisms – foraminifera are complex and poorly understood. This study reports the foraminiferal survival behavior, and geochemical trace elements incorporation measured from the shells of living cultured benthic foraminifera from the Gullmar fjord (Sweden) after exposure to warming, acidification, and hypoxic conditions. An experimental set-up was designed with two different temperatures (fjord’s in-situ 9 ˚C and 14 ˚C), two different oxygen concentrations (oxic versus hypoxic), and three different pH (control, medium, and low pH based on the IPCC scenario for the year 2100). Duplicate aquariums, meaning aquariums displaying the same conditions and same number of species, were employed for the controls and the two lower pH conditions at both temperatures. The stability of the aquariums was ensured by regular measurement of the water parameters and confirmed by statistical analysis. The species Ammonia confertitesta’s (T6) survival (CTB-labeled), shell calcification (calcein-labeled), and geochemical analyses (laser-ablation ICP-MS) were investigated at the end of the experimental period (48 days). Investigated trace elements (TE) ratios were Mg/Ca, Mn/Ca, Ba/Ca, and Sr/ Ca. Results show that A. confertitesta (T6) calcified chambers in all the experimental conditions except for the most severe combination of stressors (i.e., warm, hypoxic, low pH). Survival rates varied by up to a factor of two between duplicates for all conditions suggesting that foraminiferal response may not solely be driven by environmental conditions but also by internal or confounding factors (e.g., physiological stress). A large variability of all the TE/Ca values of foraminifera growing at low pH is observed suggesting that A. confertitesta (T6) may struggle to calcify in these conditions. Thus, this study demonstrates the vulnerability of a resilient species to the triple-stressor scenario in terms of survival, calcification, and trace element incorporation. Overall, the experimental set-up yielded coherent results compared to previous studies in terms of ontogeny, trace elements ratios, and partition coefficient making it advantageous for environmental reconstructions. 

Continue reading ‘Response of foraminifera Ammonia confertitesta (T6) to ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation – an experimental approach’

Anthropogenic acidification of surface waters drives decreased biogenic calcification in the Mediterranean Sea

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions directly or indirectly drive ocean acidification, warming and enhanced stratification. The combined effects of these processes on marine planktic calcifiers at decadal to centennial timescales are poorly understood. Here, we analyze size normalized planktic foraminiferal shell weight, shell geochemistry, and supporting proxies from 3 sediment cores in the Mediterranean Sea spanning several centuries. Our results allow us to investigate the response of surface-dwelling planktic foraminifera to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. We find that increased anthropogenic carbon dioxide levels led to basin wide reductions in size normalized weights by modulating foraminiferal calcification. Carbon (δ13C) and boron (δ11B) isotopic compositions also indicate the increasing influence of fossil fuel derived carbon dioxide and decreasing pH, respectively. Alkenone concentrations and test accumulation rates indicate that warming and changes in biological productivity are insufficient to offset acidification effects. We suggest that further increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide will drive ongoing reductions in marine biogenic calcification in the Mediterranean Sea.

Continue reading ‘Anthropogenic acidification of surface waters drives decreased biogenic calcification in the Mediterranean Sea’

Experimental ocean acidification and food limitation reveals altered energy budgets and synergistic effects on mortality of larvae of a coastal fish

Ocean acidification (OA) presents a unique challenge to early life stages of marine species. Developing organisms must balance the need to grow rapidly with the energetic demands of maintaining homeostasis. The small sizes of early life stages can make them highly sensitive to changes in environmental CO2 levels, but studies have found wide variation in responses to OA. Thus far most OA studies have manipulated CO2 only, and modifying factors need to be considered in greater detail. We investigated the effects of high pCO2 and food ration on rates of growth and mortality of a coastal fish, the California Grunion (Leuresthes tenuis). We also examined how CO2 and food levels affected feeding success, metabolic rate, and swimming activity – processes reflective of energy acquisition and expenditure. In general, exposure to high CO2 decreased energy intake by reducing feeding success, and increased energy expenditure by increasing metabolic rate and routine swimming speed, though the magnitudes of these effects varied somewhat with age. Despite these changes in energetics, growth of biomass was not affected significantly by pCO2 level but was reduced by low ration level, and we did not detect an interactive effect of food ration and pCO2 on growth. However, under OA conditions, larvae were in poorer condition (as evaluated by the mass to length ratio) by the end of the experiment and our analysis of mortality revealed a significant interaction in which the effects of OA were more lethal when food energy was limited. These results are consistent with the idea that although energy can be reallocated to preserve biomass growth, increased energetic demand under ocean acidification may draw energy away from maintenance, including those processes that foster homeostasis during development. Overall, these results highlight both the need to consider the availability of food energy as a force governing species’ responses to ocean acidification and the need to explicitly consider the energy allocated to both growth and maintenance as climate changes.

Continue reading ‘Experimental ocean acidification and food limitation reveals altered energy budgets and synergistic effects on mortality of larvae of a coastal fish’

Effects of pH and salinity on survival, growth, and enzyme activities in juveniles of the sunray surf clam (Mactra chinensis Philippi)


  • Salinity and pH tolerance ranges were identified for Mactra chinensis Philippi juveniles in laboratory tests.
  • Survival rates were significantly reduced at extreme pH and salinity.
  • Low pH and salinity induced oxidative stress, decreasing antioxidant enzyme activities.


The study investigated the impact of salinity and pH changes on the survival, growth, and antioxidant enzyme activity in Mactra chinensis Philippi (1.00 ± 0.10 cm shell length, 0.75±0.04 cm shell height), a marine clam species. Juveniles were exposed to various pH levels (5.4 – 9.6) and salinities (5 – 35 psu) for up to 20 days at 19 ± 0.5 ˚C. The individual effect of salinity and pH on juveniles were evaluated under pH 8.0 and salinity 30 psu, respectively. The results indicated that the highest survival rates were observed at pH 8.0 (85%, salinity = 30 psu) and salinity 30 psu (95%, pH = 8.0). The survival rates were significantly reduced at extreme pH (≤ 7.2; ≥ 8.4) and salinities (≤ 15; 35 psu). Additionally, oxidative stress was observed in clams exposed to low pH and salinity as indicated by the decreased activities of the antioxidant enzymes catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Notably, no significant difference in relative growth rates was observed between salinity 25 and 30 psu, between pH 7.8/8.4 and pH 8.0. Our results provide information on potential impact of pH and salinity changes on economically important bivalve species and may be used to optimize pH and salinity in aquaculture.

Continue reading ‘Effects of pH and salinity on survival, growth, and enzyme activities in juveniles of the sunray surf clam (Mactra chinensis Philippi)’

Effects of ocean acidification on Lottia scutum settlement

The effects of ocean acidification on calcifying marine organisms are becoming more pronounced as atmospheric CO2 levels have increased due to anthropogenic carbon emissions (Etheridge et al., 1996). Studies on these effects have also increased over time. Ocean acidification (OA) has been shown to affect the feeding behavior and metabolic rates of larvae in a number of species (Vargas et al., 2013; Pan et al., 2015). Metabolic changes can significantly influence developmental rates, but little is still known about consequences of OA for non-feeding marine invertebrate larvae. In this study, we focus on the effects of OA conditions on the larval stage of Lottia scutum, a Pacific rocky intertidal limpet species that ranges from Alaska to southern California. Larvae were exposed to OA conditions (pH 7.3) at competency stage and monitored for settlement behavior and metamorphosis. Our results indicate that L. scutum larvae were able to successfully settle in OA and ambient seawater treatments. We did not find a negative effect of the specific OA conditions used in this study on the settlement of L. scutum. These findings provide insight into how environmental stress might affect early life stages, as well as how marine invertebrate larvae from regularly low pH environments fare in OA conditions.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on Lottia scutum settlement’

Molecular responses in an Antarctic bivalve and an ascidian to ocean acidification


  • The non-calcifying species Cnemidocarpa verrucosa sp. A showed a greater number of differentially expressed genes than the calcifying Aequiyoldia eightsii.
  • The Ocean Acidification caused an upregulation of genes involved in the immune system and antioxidant response in the ascidian Cnemidocarpa verrucosa sp. A.
  • The abundance of the key marine organisms (such as Cnemidocarpa verrucosa), could be affected by Ocean Acidification if pH predictions for polar regions come true.
  • Contrary to expected, Ocean Acidification could not affect the mollusk Aequiyoldia eightsii compared to the non-calcifying species.


Southern Ocean organisms are considered particularly vulnerable to Ocean acidification (OA), as they inhabit cold waters where calcite-aragonite saturation states are naturally low. It is also generally assumed that OA would affect calcifying animals more than non-calcifying animals. In this context, we aimed to study the impact of reduced pH on both types of species: the ascidian Cnemidocarpa verrucosa sp. A, and the bivalve Aequiyoldia eightsii, from an Antarctic fjord. We used gene expression profiling and enzyme activity to study the responses of these two Antarctic benthic species to OA. We report the results of an experiment lasting 66 days, comparing the molecular mechanisms underlying responses under two pCO2 treatments (ambient and elevated pCO2). We observed 224 up-regulated and 111 down-regulated genes (FC ≥ 2; p-value ≤ 0.05) in the ascidian. In particular, the decrease in pH caused an upregulation of genes involved in the immune system and antioxidant response. While fewer differentially expressed (DE) genes were observed in the infaunal bivalve, 34 genes were up-regulated, and 69 genes were downregulated (FC ≥ 2; p-value ≤ 0.05) in response to OA. We found downregulated genes involved in the oxidoreductase pathway (such as glucose dehydrogenase and trimethyl lysine dioxygenase), while the heat shock protein 70 was up-regulated. This work addresses the effect of OA in two common, widely distributed Antarctic species, showing striking results. Our major finding highlights the impact of OA on the non-calcifying species, results that differ from the general trend, in which one remarks the higher impact on calcifying species. Our result proposes a deep discussion about the potential effect on non-calcifying species, such as ascidians, a diverse and abundant group, that form extended three-dimensional clusters in the shallow waters and shelf areas along the Southern Ocean.

Continue reading ‘Molecular responses in an Antarctic bivalve and an ascidian to ocean acidification’

Long-term preconditioning of the coral Pocillopora acuta does not restore performance in future ocean conditions

There is overwhelming evidence that tropical coral reefs are severely impacted by human induced climate change. Assessing the capability of reef-building corals to expand their tolerance limits to survive projected climate trajectories is critical for their protection and management. Acclimation mechanisms such as developmental plasticity may provide one means by which corals could cope with projected ocean warming and acidification. To assess the potential of preconditioning to enhance thermal tolerance in the coral Pocillopora acuta, colonies were kept under three different scenarios from settlement to 17 months old: present day (0.9 °C-weeks (Degree Heating Weeks), + 0.75 °C annual, 400 ppm pCO2) mid-century (2.5 °C-weeks, + 1.5 °C annual, 685 ppm pCO2) and end of century (5 °C-weeks, + 2 °C annual, 900 ppm pCO2) conditions. Colonies from the present-day scenario were subsequently introduced to the mid-century and end of century conditions for six weeks during summer thermal maxima to examine if preconditioned colonies (reared under these elevated conditions) had a higher physiological performance compared to naive individuals. Symbiodiniaceae density and chlorophyll a concentrations were significantly lower in mid-century and end of century preconditioned groups, and declines in symbiont density were observed over the six-week accumulated heat stress in all treatments. Maximum photosynthetic rate was significantly suppressed in mid-century and end of century preconditioned groups, while minimum saturating irradiances were highest for 2050 pre-exposed individuals with parents originating from specific populations. The results of this study indicate preconditioning to elevated temperature and pCO2 for 17 months did not enhance the physiological performance in P. acuta. However, variations in trait responses and effects on tolerance found among treatment groups provides evidence for differential capacity for phenotypic plasticity among populations which could have valuable applications for future restoration efforts.

Continue reading ‘Long-term preconditioning of the coral Pocillopora acuta does not restore performance in future ocean conditions’

The effects of temperature and pH on egg release and germling development of the fucoid alga, Silvetia compressa

The rockweed, Silvetia compressa (Phaeophyceae, Fucales) is a fleshy, brown seaweed that occupies the middle intertidal zone on wave-exposed rocky shores from northern California to Baja California. Like other rockweeds in temperate latitudes worldwide, Silvetia is a canopy-forming foundation species that provides habitat and refuge from desiccation and thermal stress to a diverse community of intertidal organisms. Over the past several decades, Silvetia populations have exhibited declines driven likely by multiple anthropogenic disturbances, including alterations in environmental conditions associated with climate change, that are affecting both adults and early life history stages. Reproduction and development of Silvetia is particularly sensitive to abiotic stresses, thus, altered spawning, recruitment, and development are expected as global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels continue to rise and the ocean becomes more acidic. To examine the effects of temperature and pH on Silvetia early life history stages (egg and germling abundance, germination success, and germling development), I conducted a laboratory-controlled experiment. Collected reproductive tips of Silvetia were induced to release gametes in petri dishes (n=5 per treatment per month) with seawater conditions of four possible combinations of temperature (ambient 16℃ and a conservative future warm condition of 20℃) and pH (ambient 8.1 and a conservative future condition of 7.8) treatments. The number of eggs in petri dishes were quantified thirty minutes post-spawning and the number of germlings were counted a day later, with germination success. One-week post-spawning, the length of germlings remaining in petri dishes with maintained water conditions were measured. The effects of temperature and pH were variable among the different early life history stages of Silvetia with warming negatively impacting egg and germling counts and, potentially, germling length while future low pH conditions only reduced egg numbers under ambient temperature conditions. Despite documented peaks in reproductive output in Silvetia in winter, there were no clear temporal patterns for any measured parameter. Ocean warming may have a greater impact on Silvetia early life history stages than ocean acidification. Future impacts on early life history stages may result in continued declines of these ecosystem engineers which can have disproportionate effects on the ecosystem, including dramatic shifts in productivity, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and ecosystem stability.

Continue reading ‘The effects of temperature and pH on egg release and germling development of the fucoid alga, Silvetia compressa’

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: