Posts Tagged 'Cnidaria'

Effects of ocean acidification on benthic organisms in the Mediterranean Sea under realistic climatic scenarios: A meta-analysis

Ocean acidification is expected to cause significant changes in the marine environment over the coming century. The effects of acidification on organisms’ physiology have been studied over the past two decades. However, the experimental findings are not always easily comparable because of differences in experimental design, and comparable experiments do not always produce similar results. To rigorously integrate the current knowledge, we performed a meta-analysis of published studies focused on benthic organisms in the Mediterranean Sea, both in controlled manipulative experiments and in situ experiments near vent areas. In each experiment, the effect of acidification was calculated as the log-transformed response ratio (LnRR) of experimental versus control conditions. The quantitative results obtained by the meta-analysis highlight: (a) an increase in fleshy algae cover, which may lead to a competitive advantage over calcifying macroalgae; (b) a reduction of calcification by both algae and corals; (c) an increase in seagrass shoot density under low pH; and (d) a general increase in the photosynthetic activity of macrophytes.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on benthic organisms in the Mediterranean Sea under realistic climatic scenarios: A meta-analysis’

The stable microbiome of inter and sub-tidal anemone species under increasing pCO2

Increasing levels of pCO2 within the oceans will select for resistant organisms such as anemones, which may thrive under ocean acidification conditions. However, increasing pCO2 may alter the bacterial community of marine organisms, significantly affecting the health status of the host. A pH gradient associated with a natural volcanic vent system within Levante Bay, Vulcano Island, Italy, was used to test the effects of ocean acidification on the bacterial community of two anemone species in situ, Anemonia viridis and Actinia equina using 16 S rDNA pyrosequencing. Results showed the bacterial community of the two anemone species differed significantly from each other primarily because of differences in the Gammaproteobacteria and Epsilonproteobacteria abundances. The bacterial communities did not differ within species among sites with decreasing pH except for A. viridis at the vent site (pH = 6.05). In addition to low pH, the vent site contains trace metals and sulfide that may have influenced the bacteria community of A. viridis. The stability of the bacterial community from pH 8.1 to pH 7.4, coupled with previous experiments showing the lack of, or beneficial changes within anemones living under low pH conditions indicates that A. viridis and A. equina will be winners under future ocean acidification scenarios.

Continue reading ‘The stable microbiome of inter and sub-tidal anemone species under increasing pCO2’

Responses of the sea anemone, Exaiptasia pallida, to ocean acidification conditions and zinc or nickel exposure

Ocean acidification, caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), is a growing concern in marine environments. Land-based sources of pollution, such as metals, have also been a noted problem; however, little research has addressed the combined exposure of both pollutants to coral reef organisms. In this study we examined tissue metal accumulation and physiological effects (activity of anti-oxidant enzymes, catalase and glutathione reductase) in the sea anemone, Exaiptasia pallida after exposure to increased CO2, as well as zinc (Zn) or nickel (Ni). After exposure to four concentrations (nominal values = control, 10, 50, 100 μg/L) of Zn or Ni over 7 days, both metals accumulated in the tissues of E. pallida in a concentration-dependent manner. Anemones exposed to elevated CO2 (1000 ppm) accumulated significant tissue burdens of Zn or Ni faster (by 48 h) than those exposed to the same metal concentrations at ambient CO2. No differences were observed in catalase activity due to Zn exposure; however, 50 μg/L Ni caused a significant increase in catalase activity at ambient CO2. No significant effect on catalase activity from CO2 exposure alone was observed. Glutathione reductase activity was affected by increased Zn or Ni exposure and those effects were influenced by increased CO2. Results of this study provide insight into the toxic mechanisms and environmental implications of CO2 and Zn or Ni exposure to the cnidarian E. pallida.

Continue reading ‘Responses of the sea anemone, Exaiptasia pallida, to ocean acidification conditions and zinc or nickel exposure’

Resilience to ocean acidification: decreased carbonic anhydrase activity in sea anemones under high pCO2 conditions

Non-calcifying photosynthetic anthozoans have emerged as a group that may thrive under high carbon dioxide partial pressure ( pCO2) conditions via increased productivity. However, the physiological mechanisms underlying this potential success are unclear. Here we investigated the impact of high pCO2 on the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) use in the temperate sea anemone Anemonia viridis. We assessed the impacts of long-term exposure to high pCO2, i.e. sampling in situ natural CO2 vents (Vulcano, Italy), and short-term exposure, i.e. during a 3 wk controlled laboratory experiment. We focused on photo-physiological parameters (net photosynthesis rates, chlorophyll a content and Symbiodinium density) and on carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity, an enzyme involved in the energy-demanding process of DIC absorption. Long-term exposure to high pCO2 had no impact on Symbiodinium density and chlorophyll a content. In contrst, short-term exposure to high pCO2 induced a significant reduction in Symbiodinium density, which together with unchanged net photosynthesis resulted in the increase of Symbiodinium productivity per cell. Finally, in both in situ long-term and laboratory short-term exposure to high pCO2, we observed a significant decrease in the CA activity of sea anemones, suggesting a change in DIC use (i.e. from an HCO3- to a CO2 user). This change could enable a shift in the energy budget that may increase the ability of non-calcifying photosynthetic anthozoans to cope with ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Resilience to ocean acidification: decreased carbonic anhydrase activity in sea anemones under high pCO2 conditions’

Survey of Cnidarian gene expression profiles in response to environmental stressors: summarizing 20 years of research, what are we heading for?

Coral research has come a long way since the pioneering coral biology studies of thermal tolerance dating back to the turn of the previous century. In great contrast, at the present time, the currently available in silico technologies enable the entire transcriptome to be surveyed in a high-throughput manner following an array of stress manipulations. Deep-sequencing is expected to revolutionize the way we study gene expression and holds the potential to answer prominent questions regarding cnidarian cellular pathways following global change scenarios. In this review we focus on cnidarian responses to environmental stressors in general and to global climate change in particular, focusing on the gene expression levels. A wide characterization of studies conducted in cnidarians following environmental stress revealed that most of the studies investigated a single stress factor and mostly thermal stress, were short-term and focused on branching corals. Subsequently, there is a lack of gene expression knowledge concerning massive corals that are known to be less susceptible to bleaching comparing to branching corals. In this review, we present a detailed list of differentially expressed genes in branching/massive corals under eight types of environmental stress. A conceptual model was constructed of the main processes occurring within the coral host cell under heat, ocean acidification and UV stress. The tables and the pathways of this review emphasize gaps in knowledge and can assist in guiding future research as they suggests which genes/processes one should look at in order to achieve a greater understanding of the cnidarians molecular processes affected by global anthropogenic stress.

Continue reading ‘Survey of Cnidarian gene expression profiles in response to environmental stressors: summarizing 20 years of research, what are we heading for?’

Withstanding multiple stressors: ephyrae of the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita, Scyphozoa) in a high-temperature, high-CO2 and low-oxygen environment

Global change is affecting marine ecosystems through a combination of different stressors such as warming, ocean acidification and oxygen depletion. Very little is known about the interactions among these factors, especially with respect to gelatinous zooplankton. Therefore, in this study we investigated the direct effects of pH, temperature and oxygen availability on the moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita, concentrating on the ephyral life stage. Starved one-day-old ephyrae were exposed to a range of pCO2 (400–4000 ppm) and three different dissolved oxygen levels (from saturated to hypoxic conditions), in two different temperatures (5 and 15 °C) for 7 days. Carbon content and swimming activity were analysed at the end of the incubation period, and mortality noted. General linearized models were fitted through the data, with the best fitting models including two- and three-way interactions between pCO2, temperature and oxygen concentration. The combined effect of the stressors was small but significant, with the clearest negative effect on growth caused by the combination of all three stressors present (high temperature, high CO2, low oxygen). We conclude that A. aurita ephyrae are robust and that they are not likely to suffer from these environmental stressors in a near future.

Continue reading ‘Withstanding multiple stressors: ephyrae of the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita, Scyphozoa) in a high-temperature, high-CO2 and low-oxygen environment’

Ocean acidification alters fish–jellyfish symbiosis

Symbiotic relationships are common in nature, and are important for individual fitness and sustaining species populations. Global change is rapidly altering environmental conditions, but, with the exception of coral–microalgae interactions, we know little of how this will affect symbiotic relationships. We here test how the effects of ocean acidification, from rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions, may alter symbiotic interactions between juvenile fish and their jellyfish hosts. Fishes treated with elevated seawater CO2 concentrations, as forecast for the end of the century on a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission scenario, were negatively affected in their behaviour. The total time that fish (yellowtail scad) spent close to their jellyfish host in a choice arena where they could see and smell their host was approximately three times shorter under future compared with ambient CO2 conditions. Likewise, the mean number of attempts to associate with jellyfish was almost three times lower in CO2-treated compared with control fish, while only 63% (high CO2) versus 86% (control) of all individuals tested initiated an association at all. By contrast, none of three fish species tested were attracted solely to jellyfish olfactory cues under present-day CO2 conditions, suggesting that the altered fish–jellyfish association is not driven by negative effects of ocean acidification on olfaction. Because shelter is not widely available in the open water column and larvae of many (and often commercially important) pelagic species associate with jellyfish for protection against predators, modification of the fish–jellyfish symbiosis might lead to higher mortality and alter species population dynamics, and potentially have flow-on effects for their fisheries.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification alters fish–jellyfish symbiosis’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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