Posts Tagged 'calcification'

Ocean acidification impacts spine integrity but not regenerative capacity of spines and tube feet in adult sea urchins

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has resulted in a change in seawater chemistry and lowering of pH, referred to as ocean acidification. Understanding how different organisms and processes respond to ocean acidification is vital to predict how marine ecosystems will be altered under future scenarios of continued environmental change. Regenerative processes involving biomineralization in marine calcifiers such as sea urchins are predicted to be especially vulnerable. In this study, the effect of ocean acidification on regeneration of external appendages (spines and tube feet) was investigated in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus exposed to ambient (546 µatm), intermediate (1027 µatm) and high (1841 µatm) partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) for eight weeks. The rate of regeneration was maintained in spines and tube feet throughout two periods of amputation and regrowth under conditions of elevated pCO2. Increased expression of several biomineralization-related genes indicated molecular compensatory mechanisms; however, the structural integrity of both regenerating and homeostatic spines was compromised in high pCO2 conditions. Indicators of physiological fitness (righting response, growth rate, coelomocyte concentration and composition) were not affected by increasing pCO2, but compromised spine integrity is likely to have negative consequences for defence capabilities and therefore survival of these ecologically and economically important organisms.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification impacts spine integrity but not regenerative capacity of spines and tube feet in adult sea urchins’

The regulation of coralline algal physiology, an in-situ study of Corallina officinalis (Corallinales, Rhodophyta)

Calcified macroalgae are critical components of marine ecosystems worldwide, but face considerable threat both from climate change (increasing water temperatures) and ocean acidification (decreasing ocean pH and carbonate saturation). It is thus fundamental to constrain the relationships between key abiotic stressors and the physiological processes that govern coralline algal growth and survival. Here we characterize the complex relationships between the abiotic environment of rock pool habitats, and the physiology of the geniculate red coralline alga, Corallina officinalis (Corallinales, Rhodophyta). Paired assessment of irradiance, water temperature and carbonate chemistry, with C. officinalis net production (NP), respiration (R) and net calcification (NG) was performed in a south-west UK field site, at multiple temporal scales (seasonal, diurnal and tidal). Strong seasonality was observed in NP and night-time R, with a Pmax of 22.35 μmol DIC gDW−1 h−1, Ek of 300 μmol photons m−2 s−1 and R of 3.29 μmol DIC gDW−1 −1 determined across the complete annual cycle. NP showed a significant exponential relationship with irradiance (R2 = 0.67), although was temperature dependent given ambient irradiance > Ek for the majority of the annual cycle. Over tidal emersion periods, dynamics in NP highlighted the ability of C. officinalis to acquire inorganic carbon despite significant fluctuations in carbonate chemistry. Across all data, NG was highly predictable (R2 = 0.80) by irradiance, water temperature and carbonate chemistry, providing a NGmax of 3.94  μmol CaCO3 gDW−1 h−1, and Ek of 113 μmol photons m−2 s−1. Light-NG showed strong seasonality and significant coupling to NP (R2 = 0.65), as opposed to rock pool water carbonate saturation. In contrast, the direction of dark-NG (dissolution vs. precipitation) was strongly related to carbonate saturation, mimicking abiotic precipitation dynamics. Data demonstrated that C. officinalis is adapted to both long-term (seasonal) and short-term (tidal) variability in environmental stressors, although the balance between metabolic processes and the external environment may be significantly impacted by future climate change.

Continue reading ‘The regulation of coralline algal physiology, an in-situ study of Corallina officinalis (Corallinales, Rhodophyta)’

Computing the carbonate chemistry of the coral calcifying medium and its response to ocean acidification

Critical to determining vulnerability or resilience of reef corals to Ocean Acidification (OA) is a clearer understanding of the extent to which corals can control carbonate chemistry in their Extracellular Calcifying Medium (ECM) where the CaCO3 skeleton is produced. Here, we employ a mathematical framework to calculate ECM aragonite saturation state (Ωarag.(ECM)) and carbonate system ion concentration using measurements of calcification rate, seawater characteristics (temperature, salinity and pH) and ECM pH (pH(ECM)). Our calculations of ECM carbonate chemistry at current-day seawater pH, indicate that Ωarag.(ECM) ranges from ∼10 to 38 (mean 20.41), i.e. about 5 to 6-fold higher than seawater. Accordingly, Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) and Total Alkalinity (TA) were calculated to be around 3 times higher in the ECM than in seawater. We also assessed the effects of acidification on ECM chemical properties of the coral Stylophora pistillata. At reduced seawater pH our calculations indicate that Ωarag.(ECM) remains almost constant. DIC(ECM) and TA(ECM) gradually increase as seawater pH declines, reaching values about 5 to 6-fold higher than in seawater, respectively for DIC and TA. We propose that these ECM characteristics buffer the effect of acidification and explain why certain corals continue to produce CaCO3 even when seawater chemistry is less favourable.

Continue reading ‘Computing the carbonate chemistry of the coral calcifying medium and its response to ocean acidification’

Energetic costs of calcification under ocean acidification

Anthropogenic ocean acidification threatens to negatively impact marine organisms that precipitate calcium carbonate skeletons. Past geological events, such as the Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction, together with modern experiments generally support these concerns. However, the physiological costs of producing a calcium carbonate skeleton under different acidification scenarios remain poorly understood. Here, we present an idealized mathematical model to quantify whole-skeleton costs, concluding that they rise only modestly (up to ∼10%) under acidification expected for 2100. The modest magnitude of this effect reflects in part the low energetic cost of inorganic, calcium carbonate relative to the proteinaceous organic matrix component of skeletons. Our analysis does, however, point to an important kinetic constraint that depends on seawater carbonate chemistry, and we hypothesize that the impact of acidification is more likely to cause extinctions within groups where the timescale of larval development is tightly constrained. The cheapness of carbonate skeletons compared to organic materials also helps explain the widespread evolutionary convergence upon calcification within the metazoa.

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Primary life stage boron isotope and trace elements incorporation in aposymbiotic Acropora millepora coral under ocean acidification and warming

Early-life stages of reef-building corals are vital to coral existence and reef maintenance. It is therefore crucial to study juvenile coral response to future climate change pressures. Moreover, corals are known to be reliable recorders of environmental conditions in their skeletal materials. Aposymbiotic Acropora millepora larvae were cultured in different seawater temperature (27 and 29ºC) and pCO2 (390 and 750 µatm) conditions to understand the impacts of ‘end of century’ ocean acidification (OA) and ocean warming (OW) conditions on skeletal morphology and geochemistry. The experimental conditions impacted primary polyp juvenile coral skeletal morphology and growth resulting in asymmetric translucent appearances with brittle skeleton features. The impact of OA resulted in microstructure differences with decreased precipitation or lengthening of fasciculi and disorganized aragonite crystals that led to more concentrations of centers of calcifications. The coral skeletal δ11B composition measured by laser ablation MC-ICP-MS was significantly affected by pCO2 (p = 0.0024) and water temperature (p = 1.46 x 10-5). Reconstructed pH of the primary polyp skeleton using the δ11B proxy suggests a difference in coral calcification site and seawater pH consistent with previously observed coral pH up-regulation. Similarly, trace element results measured by laser ablation ICP-MS indicate the impact of pCO2. Primary polyp juvenile Sr/Ca ratio indicates a bias in reconstructed sea surface temperature (SST) under higher pCO2 conditions. Coral microstructure content changes (center of calcification and fasciculi) due to OA possibly contributed to the variability in B/Ca ratios. Our results imply that increasing OA and OW may lead to coral acclimation issues and species-specific inaccuracies of the commonly used Sr/Ca-SST proxy.

Continue reading ‘Primary life stage boron isotope and trace elements incorporation in aposymbiotic Acropora millepora coral under ocean acidification and warming’

Naturally acidified habitat selects for ocean acidification–tolerant mussels

Ocean acidification severely affects bivalves, especially their larval stages. Consequently, the fate of this ecologically and economically important group depends on the capacity and rate of evolutionary adaptation to altered ocean carbonate chemistry. We document successful settlement of wild mussel larvae (Mytilus edulis) in a periodically CO2-enriched habitat. The larval fitness of the population originating from the CO2-enriched habitat was compared to the response of a population from a nonenriched habitat in a common garden experiment. The high CO2–adapted population showed higher fitness under elevated PCO2 (partial pressure of CO2) than the non-adapted cohort, demonstrating, for the first time, an evolutionary response of a natural mussel population to ocean acidification. To assess the rate of adaptation, we performed a selection experiment over three generations. CO2 tolerance differed substantially between the families within the F1 generation, and survival was drastically decreased in the highest, yet realistic, PCO2 treatment. Selection of CO2-tolerant F1 animals resulted in higher calcification performance of F2 larvae during early shell formation but did not improve overall survival. Our results thus reveal significant short-term selective responses of traits directly affected by ocean acidification and long-term adaptation potential in a key bivalve species. Because immediate response to selection did not directly translate into increased fitness, multigenerational studies need to take into consideration the multivariate nature of selection acting in natural habitats. Combinations of short-term selection with long-term adaptation in populations from CO2-enriched versus nonenriched natural habitats represent promising approaches for estimating adaptive potential of organisms facing global change.

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Independence of nutrient limitation and carbon dioxide impacts on the Southern Ocean coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

Future oceanic conditions induced by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions include warming, acidification and reduced nutrient supply due to increased stratification. Some parts of the Southern Ocean are expected to show rapid changes, especially for carbonate mineral saturation. Here we compare the physiological response of the model coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (strain EHSO 5.14, originating from 50oS, 149oE) with pH/CO2 gradients (mimicking ocean acidification ranging from 1 to 4 × current pCO2 levels) under nutrient-limited (nitrogen and phosphorus) and -replete conditions. Both nutrient limitations decreased per cell photosynthesis (particulate organic carbon (POC) production) and calcification (particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) production) rates for all pCO2 levels, with more than 50% reductions under nitrogen limitation. These impacts, however, became indistinguishable from nutrient-replete conditions when normalized to cell volume. Calcification decreased three-fold and linearly with increasing pCO2 under all nutrient conditions, and was accompanied by a smaller ~30% nonlinear reduction in POC production, manifested mainly above 3 × current pCO2. Our results suggest that normalization to cell volume allows the major impacts of nutrient limitation (changed cell sizes and reduced PIC and POC production rates) to be treated independently of the major impacts of increasing pCO2 and, additionally, stresses the importance of including cell volume measurements to the toolbox of standard physiological analysis of coccolithophores in field and laboratory studies.

Continue reading ‘Independence of nutrient limitation and carbon dioxide impacts on the Southern Ocean coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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