Posts Tagged 'calcification'

Macroalgae may mitigate ocean acidification effects on mussel calcification by increasing pH and its fluctuations

Ocean acidification (OA) is generally assumed to negatively impact calcification rates of marine organisms. At a local scale however, biological activity of macrophytes may generate pH fluctuations with rates of change that are orders of magnitude larger than the long-term trend predicted for the open ocean. These fluctuations may in turn impact benthic calcifiers in the vicinity. Combining laboratory, mesocosm and field studies, such interactions between OA, the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus, the sea grass Zostera marina and the blue mussel Mytilus edulis were investigated at spatial scales from decimetres to 100s of meters in the western Baltic. Macrophytes increased the overall mean pH of the habitat by up to 0.3 units relative to macrophyte-free, but otherwise similar, habitats and imposed diurnal pH fluctuations with amplitudes ranging from 0.3 to more than 1 pH unit. These amplitudes and their impact on mussel calcification tended to increase with increasing macrophyte biomass to bulk water ratio. At the laboratory and mesocosm scales, biogenic pH fluctuations allowed mussels to maintain calcification even under acidified conditions by shifting most of their calcification activity into the daytime when biogenic fluctuations caused by macrophyte activity offered temporal refuge from OA stress. In natural habitats with a low biomass to water body ratio, the impact of biogenic pH fluctuations on mean calcification rates of M. edulis was less pronounced. Thus, in dense algae or seagrass habitats, macrophytes may mitigate OA impact on mussel calcification by raising mean pH and providing temporal refuge from acidification stress.

Continue reading ‘Macroalgae may mitigate ocean acidification effects on mussel calcification by increasing pH and its fluctuations’

Effects of elevated CO2 on phytoplankton during a mesocosm experiment in the southern eutrophicated coastal water of China

There is a growing consensus that the ongoing increase in atmospheric CO2 level will lead to a variety of effects on marine phytoplankton and ecosystems. However, the effects of CO2 enrichment on eutrophic coastal waters are still unclear, as are the complex mechanisms coupled to the development of eutrophication. Here, we report the first mesocosm CO2 perturbation study in a eutrophic subtropical bay during summer by investigating the effect of rising CO2 on a model artificial community consisting of well-characterized cultured diatoms (Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Thalassiosira weissflogii) and prymnesiophytes (Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica). These species were inoculated into triplicate 4 m3 enclosures with equivalent chlorophyll a (Chl-a) under present and higher partial pressures of atmospheric CO2 (pCO2 = 400 and 1000 ppmv). Diatom bloom events were observed in all enclosures, with enhanced organic carbon production and Chl-a concentrations under high CO2 treatments. Relative to the low CO2 treatments, the consumption of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen and uptake ratios of N/P and N/Si increased significantly during the bloom. These observed responses suggest more extensive and complex effects of higher CO2 concentrations on phytoplankton communities in coastal eutrophic environments.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated CO2 on phytoplankton during a mesocosm experiment in the southern eutrophicated coastal water of China’

Molecular and geochemical perspectives on the influence of CO2 on calcification in coral cell cultures

Understanding the cellular and molecular responses of stony corals to ocean acidification is key to predicting their ability to calcify under projected high CO2 conditions. Of specific interest are the links between biomineralization proteins and the precipitation of new calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which potentially can provide a better understanding of the biomineralization process. We have assessed the effects of increased CO2 on the calcification process in cell cultures of the stony coral, Stylophora pistillata, reared in nutrient-enriched artificial seawater at four pCO2 levels and two glucose concentrations. Dispersed S. pistillata cells grown at low (400 ppmV) and moderate (700 ppmV) pCO2 re-aggregate into proto-polyps and precipitate CaCO3. When grown at pCO2 levels of 1000 ppmV and 2000 ppmV, the cells up-regulate genes for two highly acidic proteins as well as a carbonic anhydrase, but down-regulate long term cadherin protein production and minimize proto-polyp formation, and exhibit a significant decrease in measurable CaCO3 precipitation. However, cell cultures precipitate CaCO3 in all treatments, even at slightly undersaturated conditions (Ωaragonite < 0.95). Glucose addition does not influence either biomineralization gene expression or calcification rate. Measured δ11B of the mineral phase, as a proxy of the pH at the calcifying sites, is out of equilibrium with the ambient seawater medium surrounding the cells and proto-polyps, suggesting pH is elevated in the micro-environment of the precipitating mineral. Our results suggest that coral cells possess molecular mechanisms to help compensate for the effects of ocean acidification within the bounds projected in the coming century.

Continue reading ‘Molecular and geochemical perspectives on the influence of CO2 on calcification in coral cell cultures’

Daily variation in net primary production and net calcification in coral reef communities exposed to elevated pCO2 (update)

The threat represented by ocean acidification (OA) for coral reefs has received considerable attention because of the sensitivity of calcifiers to changing seawater carbonate chemistry. However, most studies have focused on the organismic response of calcification to OA, and only a few have addressed community-level effects, or investigated parameters other than calcification, such as photosynthesis. Light (photosynthetically active radiation, PAR) is a driver of biological processes on coral reefs, and the possibility that these processes might be perturbed by OA has important implications for community function. Here we investigate how CO2 enrichment affects the relationships between PAR and community net O2 production (Pnet), and between PAR and community net calcification (Gnet), using experiments on three coral communities constructed to match (i) the back reef of Mo’orea, French Polynesia, (ii) the fore reef of Mo’orea, and (iii) the back reef of O’ahu, Hawaii. The results were used to test the hypothesis that OA affects the relationship between Pnet and Gnet. For the three communities tested, pCO2 did not affect the Pnet–PAR relationship, but it affected the intercept of the hyperbolic tangent curve fitting the Gnet–PAR relationship for both reef communities in Mo’orea (but not in O’ahu). For the three communities, the slopes of the linear relationships between Pnet and Gnet were not affected by OA, although the intercepts were depressed by the inhibitory effect of high pCO2 on Gnet. Our result indicates that OA can modify the balance between net calcification and net photosynthesis of reef communities by depressing community calcification, but without affecting community photosynthesis.

Continue reading ‘Daily variation in net primary production and net calcification in coral reef communities exposed to elevated pCO2 (update)’

Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation

Marine phytoplankton such as bloom-forming, calcite-producing coccolithophores, are naturally exposed to solar UV radiation (UVR, 280–400 nm) in the ocean’s upper mixed layers. Nevertheless, effects of increasing CO2-induced ocean acidification and warming have rarely been investigated in the presence of UVR. We examined calcification and photosynthetic carbon fixation performance in the most cosmopolitan coccolithophorid, Emiliania huxleyi, grown under high (1000 μatm, HC; pHT: 7.70) and low (400 μatm, LC; pHT: 8.02) CO2levels, at 15 °C (LT), 20 °C (MT) and 24 °C (HT) with or without UVR. The HC treatment didn’t affect photosynthetic carbon fixation at 15 °C, but significantly enhanced it with increasing temperature. Exposure to UVR inhibited photosynthesis, with higher inhibition by UVA (320–395 nm) than UVB (295–320 nm), except in the HC and 24 °C-grown cells, in which UVB caused more inhibition than UVA. Reduced thickness of the coccolith layer in the HC-grown cells appeared to be responsible for the UV-induced inhibition, and an increased repair rate of UVA-derived damage in the HCHT-grown cells could be responsible for lowered UVA-induced inhibition. While calcification was reduced with the elevated CO2 concentration, exposure to UVB or UVA affected it differentially, with the former inhibiting and the latter enhancing it. UVA-induced stimulation of calcification was higher in the HC-grown cells at 15 and 20 °C, whereas at 24 °C, observed enhancement was not significant. The calcification to photosynthesis ratio (Cal / Pho ratio) was lower in the HC treatment, and increasing temperature also lowered the value. However, at 20 and 24 °C, exposures to UVR significantly increased the Cal / Pho ratio, especially in HC-grown cells, by up to 100 %. This implies that UVR can counteract the negative effects of the greenhouse treatment on the Cal / Pho ratio, and so may be a key stressor when considering the impacts of future greenhouse conditions on E. huxleyi.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation’

Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming

Predicted ocean acidification and warming are likely to have major implications for marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers. However, little information is available on the response of marine communities as a whole to predicted changes. Here, we experimentally examined the combined effects of temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) increases on the response of maerl bed assemblages, composed of living and dead thalli of the free-living coralline alga Lithothamnion corallioides, epiphytic fleshy algae, and grazer species. Two three-month experiments were performed in the winter and summer seasons in mesocosms with four different combinations of pCO2 (ambient and high pCO2) and temperature (ambient and +3 °C). The response of maerl assemblages was assessed using metabolic measurements at the species and assemblage scales. Gross primary production and respiration of assemblages were enhanced by high pCO2 conditions in the summer. This positive effect was attributed to the increase in epiphyte biomass, which benefited from higher CO2 concentrations for growth and primary production. Conversely, high pCO2 drastically decreased the calcification rates in assemblages. This response can be attributed to the decline in calcification rates of living L. corallioides due to acidification as well as increased dissolution of dead L. corallioides. Future changes in pCO2 and temperature are likely to promote the development of non-calcifying algae to the detriment of the engineer species L. corallioides. The development of fleshy algae may be modulated by the ability of grazers to regulate epiphyte growth. However, our results suggest that predicted changes will negatively affect the metabolism of grazers and potentially their ability to control epiphyte abundance. Here, we demonstrate that the response of marine communities to climate change will depend on the direct effects on species physiology and the indirect effects due to shifts in species interactions. This double, interdependent response underlines the importance of examining community-level processes, which integrate species interactions, to better understand the impact of global change on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming’

Coral calcifying fluid aragonite saturation states derived from Raman spectroscopy

Quantifying the saturation state of aragonite (ΩAr) within the calcifying fluid of corals is critical for understanding their biomineralisation process and sensitivity to environmental changes including ocean acidification. Recent advances in microscopy, microprobes, and isotope geochemistry allow determination of calcifying fluid pH and [CO32−], but direct quantification of ΩAr (where ΩAr =[CO32−][Ca2+]/Ksp) has proved elusive. Here we test a new technique for deriving ΩAr based on Raman spectroscopy. First, we analysed abiogenic aragonite crystals precipitated under a range of ΩAr from 10 to 34, and found a strong dependence of Raman peak width on ΩAr that was independent of other factors including pH, Mg/Ca partitioning, and temperature. Validation of our Raman technique for corals is difficult because there are presently no direct measurements of calcifying fluid ΩAr available for comparison. However, Raman analysis of the international coral standard JCp-1 produced ΩAr of 12.3 ± 0.3, which we demonstrate is consistent with published skeletal Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, B/Ca, δ44Ca, and δ11B data. Raman measurements are rapid (≤ 1 s), high-resolution (< 1 μm), precise (derived ΩAr ±1 to 2), and require minimal sample preparation; making the technique well suited for testing the sensitivity of coral calcifying fluid ΩAr to ocean acidification and warming using samples from natural and laboratory settings. To demonstrate this, we also show a high-resolution time series of ΩAr over multiple years of growth in a Porites skeleton from the Great Barrier Reef, and we evaluate the response of ΩAr in juvenile Acropora cultured under elevated CO2 and temperature.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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