Posts Tagged 'community composition'

Effects of ocean acidification and microplastics on microflora community composition in the digestive tract of the thick shell mussel Mytilus coruscus through 16s RNA gene sequencing

Ocean acidification and microplastic pollution is a global environmental threat, this research evaluated the effects of ocean acidification and microplastics on mussel digestive tract microbial community. The 16S rRNA gene was sequenced to characterize the flora. Species diversity in the samples was assessed by clustering valid tags on 97% similarity. Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria were the three most abundant genera in the four groups, with Bacteroidetes showing the highest diversity. However, no differences in flora structure were evident under various treatments. Phylogenetic relationship analysis revealed Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes had the highest OTU diversity. The weighted UniFrac distance, principal coordinate analysis (PCoA), unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) cluster tree and analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) evaluation results for all samples also showed that changes in pH and microplastics concentration did not significantly affect the microbial community structure in the mussel digestive tract. The results presented the no significant effects of ocean acidification and microplastics intake on mussel intestinal diversity.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification and microplastics on microflora community composition in the digestive tract of the thick shell mussel Mytilus coruscus through 16s RNA gene sequencing’

Acidification decreases microbial community diversity in the Salish Sea, a region with naturally high pCO2

Most literature exploring the biological effects of ocean acidification (OA) has focused on macroscopic organisms and far less is known about how marine microbial communities will respond. Studies of OA and microbial community composition and diversity have examined communities from a limited number of ocean regions where the ambient pH is near or above the global average. At San Juan Island (Salish Sea), a region that experiences naturally low pH (average = 7.8), the picoplankton (cell diameter is 0.2–2μm) community was predicted to show no response to experimental acidification in a three-week mesocosm experiment. Filtered seawater mesocosms were maintained via semicontinuous culturing. Three control mesocosms were maintained at pH 8.05 and three acidified mesocosms were maintained at pH 7.60. Total bacteria was quantified daily with a flow cytometer. Microbial communities were sampled every two days via filtration followed by DNA extraction, 16S rRNA amplification, and MiSeq sequencing. There was no significant difference in total bacteria between pH treatments throughout the experiment. Acidification significantly reduced Shannon’s diversity over time. During the final week of the experiment, acidification resulted in a significant decrease in Shannon’s diversity, Faith’s phylogenetic distance, and Pielous’s Evenness. ANCOM results revealed four bacterial ASVs (amplicon sequence variants), in families Flavobaceriaceae and Hyphomonadaceae that significantly decreased in relative frequency under acidification and two bacterial ASVs, in families Flavobacteriaceae and Alteromonadaceae, that significantly increased under acidification. This is the first OA study on the microbial community of the Salish Sea, a nutrient rich, low pH region, and the first of its kind to report a decrease in both picoplankton richness and evenness with acidification. These findings demonstrate that marine microbial communities that naturally experience acidic conditions are still sensitive to acidification.

Continue reading ‘Acidification decreases microbial community diversity in the Salish Sea, a region with naturally high pCO2’

Current and future trophic interactions in tropical shallow-reef lagoon habitats

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediments are the dominant form of CaCO3 on coral reefs accumulating in lagoon and inter-reefal areas. Owing to their mineralogy and a range of physical parameters, tropical CaCO3 sediments are predicted to be more sensitive to dissolution driven by ocean acidification than the skeleton of living reef organisms. How this scales up to impact infaunal organisms, which are an important food source for higher trophic levels, and thereby ecosystem functioning, is not well explored. We combined seasonal field surveys in a shallow-reef lagoon ecosystem on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with stable isotope analyses and a tank-based experiment to examine the potential top-down influence of the deposit-feeding sea cucumber, Stichopus herrmanni, on this infaunal community under current and future ocean pH. Densities of surface-sediment meiofauna were lowest in winter and spring, with harpacticoid copepods (38%) and nematodes (27%) the dominant taxa. Stable isotope analyses showed that S. herrmanni had a top-down influence on meiofauna and microphytes with a distinct δ13C and δ15N trophic position that was homogenous across seasons and locations. Tanks that mimicked sandy shallow-reef lagoon habitats were used to examine the effects of ocean acidification (elevated pCO2) on this trophic interaction. We used outdoor control (sediment only) and experimental (sediment plus S. herrmanni) tanks maintained at present-day and near-future pCO2 (+ 570 µatm) for 24 days, which fluctuated with the diel pCO2 cycle. In sediment-only tanks, copepods were > twofold more abundant at elevated pCO2, with no negative effects documented for any meiofauna group. When included in the community, top-down control by S. herrmanni counteracted the positive effects of low pH on meiofaunal abundance. We highlight a novel perspective in coral reef trophodynamics between surface-sediment meiofauna and deposit-feeding sea cucumbers, and posit that community shifts may occur in shallow-reef lagoon habitats in a future ocean with implications for the functioning of coral reefs from the bottom up.

Continue reading ‘Current and future trophic interactions in tropical shallow-reef lagoon habitats’

The impacts of ocean acidification on marine food quality and its potential food chain consequences

Dissolution of anthropogenic CO2 into the oceans results in ocean acidification (OA), altering marine chemistry with consequences for primary, secondary, and tertiary food web producers. Here we examine how OA could affect the food quality of primary producers and subsequent trophic transfer to second and tertiary producers. Changes in food quality induced by OA are often related to secondary metabolites in primary producers, such as enriched phenolics in microalgae and iodine in brown algae. These biomolecules can then be transferred to secondary producers, potentially affecting seafood quality and other marine ecosystem services. Furthermore, shifts in dominant functional groups of primary producers under the influence of OA would also impact higher trophic levels through food web interactions. It is challenging to understand how these complex food chain effects of OA may be expressed under the influence of fluctuating environments or multiple drivers, and how these effects can be scaled up through marine food webs to humans.

Continue reading ‘The impacts of ocean acidification on marine food quality and its potential food chain consequences’

Simulated future conditions of ocean warming and acidification disrupt the microbiome of the calcifying foraminifera Marginopora vertebralis across life stages

Foraminifera host diverse microbial communities that can shift in response to changing environmental conditions. To characterize climate change impacts on the foraminifera microbiome across life stages, we exposed adult Marginopora vertebralis (Large Benthic Foraminifera) to pCO2 and temperature scenarios representing present day, 2050 and 2100 levels and raised juveniles under present day and 2050 conditions. While treatment condition had no significant effect on the seawater microbial communities, exposure to future scenarios significantly altered both adult and juvenile microbiomes. In adults, divergence between present day and 2050 or 2100 conditions was primarily driven by a reduced relative abundance of Oxyphotobacteria under elevated temperature and pCO2. In juveniles, the microbial shift predominantly resulted from changes in the proportion of Proteobacteria. Indicator species analysis identified numerous treatment‐specific indicator taxa, most of which were indicative of present day conditions. Oxyphotobacteria, previously reported as putative symbionts of foraminifera, were indicative of present day and 2050 conditions in adults, but of present day conditions only in juveniles. Overall, we show that the sensitivity of the M. vertebralis microbiome to climate change scenarios extends to both life stages and primarily correlates with declines in Oxyphotobacteria and shifts in Proteobacteria under elevated temperature and pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Simulated future conditions of ocean warming and acidification disrupt the microbiome of the calcifying foraminifera Marginopora vertebralis across life stages’

The effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth of a natural community of coastal phytoplankton

An in situ mesocosm experiment was performed to investigate the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming on the coastal phytoplankton standing stock and species composition of a eutrophic coastal area in the temperate-subtropical region. Experimental treatments of natural seawater included three CO2 and two temperature conditions (present control: ~400 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature, acidification conditions: ~900 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature, and greenhouse conditions: ~900 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature +3 °C). We found that increased CO2 concentration benefited the growth of small autotrophic phytoplankton groups: picophytoplankton (PP), autotrophic nanoflagellates (ANF), and small chain-forming diatoms (DT). However, in the greenhouse conditions, ANF and DT abundances were lower compared with those in the acidification conditions. The proliferation of small autotrophic phytoplankton in future oceanic conditions (acidification and greenhouse) also increased the abundance of heterotrophic dinoflagellates (HDF). These responses suggest that a combination of acidification and warming will not only increase the small autotrophic phytoplankton standing stock but, also, lead to a shift in the diatom and dinoflagellate species composition, with potential biogeochemical element cycling feedback and an increased frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms.

Continue reading ‘The effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth of a natural community of coastal phytoplankton’

Changing carbon-to-nitrogen ratios of organic-matter export under ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) will affect marine biotas from the organism to the ecosystem level. Yet, the consequences for the biological carbon pump and thereby the oceanic sink for atmospheric CO2 are still unclear. Here we show that OA considerably alters the C/N ratio of organic-matter export (C/Nexport), a key factor determining efficiency of the biological pump. By synthesizing sediment-trap data from in situ mesocosm studies in different marine biomes, we find distinct but highly variable impacts of OA on C/Nexport, reaching up to a 20% increase/decrease under partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) conditions projected for 2100. These changes are driven by pCO2 effects on a variety of plankton taxa and corresponding shifts in food-web structure. Notably, our findings suggest a pivotal role of heterotrophic processes in controlling the response of C/Nexport to OA, thus contradicting the paradigm of primary producers as the principal driver of biogeochemical responses to ocean change.

Continue reading ‘Changing carbon-to-nitrogen ratios of organic-matter export under ocean acidification’

A new “business as usual” climate scenario and the stress response of the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa

The climate change related decline of shallow (<30 m) coral reef ecosystems has been driven by the mortality of scleractinian corals caused primarily by the phenomenon known as “coral bleaching.” But despite pervasive phase shifts and macroalgal dominance on many coral reefs, some coral species have persisted. One of those species is Montastraea cavernosa which has been categorized as resilient to a range of biotic and abiotic stressors. In order to understand the mechanism(s) of resistance in this coral, we present the results of a thermal stress and ocean acidification (OA) experiment on M. cavernosa, both its brown and orange color morphs, representing conditions predicted by the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 6.0 scenario in the year 2100. We assessed the community response of the prokaryotic microbiome, the photophysiological response of the endosymbiotic Symbiodiniaceae and the molecular responses of critical pathways in the host by quantifying transcript abundances of genes encoding fluorescent proteins, heat shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes and regulators of apoptosis. After a 12 d acclimatization experiment, no visible bleaching was observed in any treatment, and the excitation pressure on photosystem II of the symbiotic Symbiodiniaceae showed no effects of the independent or interactive effects of thermal stress and OA, while only minor, but significant, changes in the prokaryotic microbiome were observed when exposed to RCP 6.0 predicted OA conditions. At the end of the experiment, the host heat shock protein 90 showed an increase in transcript abundance under the combined effects of thermal stress and OA compared to high temperatures alone, but these treatment groups were not significantly different from treatments under normal temperatures. While Bax, an activator of apoptosis, was significantly higher under thermal stress alone compared to control samples. Taken together, M. cavernosa, exhibits ecological stability over time and this may be based on its physiological persistence, resistance and resilience when experimentally exposed to the ecologically realistic RCP 6.0 climate model predictions.

Continue reading ‘A new “business as usual” climate scenario and the stress response of the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa’

Phytoplankton dynamics in a changing Arctic Ocean

Changes in the Arctic atmosphere, cryosphere and Ocean are drastically altering the dynamics of phytoplankton, the base of marine ecosystems. This Review addresses four major complementary questions of ongoing Arctic Ocean changes and associated impacts on phytoplankton productivity, phenology and assemblage composition. We highlight trends in primary production over the last two decades while considering how multiple environmental drivers shape Arctic biogeography. Further, we consider changes to Arctic phenology by borealization and hidden under-ice blooms, and how the diversity of phytoplankton assemblages might evolve in a novel Arctic ‘biogeochemical landscape’. It is critical to understand these aspects of changing Arctic phytoplankton dynamics as they exert pressure on marine Arctic ecosystems in addition to direct effects from rapid environmental changes.

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Response of bacterial communities in Barents Sea sediments in case of a potential CO2 leakage from carbon reservoirs


  • Simulation of real conditions of a CCS site are essentials for environmental risk assessments.

  • Marine bacteria may adapt to a new situation in case of acidification event for a short time.

  • Marine bacteria community is altered in case of a CO2 leakage after 3 weeks in long-term simulation.

  • Results did not show a potential recovery of marine bacteria when CO2 was stopped within the monitored period.


Carbon capture and storage sites in Barents Sea shelf are currently in progress as part of climate change mitigation activities. However environmental impacts of a possible CO2 seepage on bacterial community are lacking knowledge. This work addressed potential consequences on bacterial communities from Snøvit region in Barents Sea sediments. Long-term experiment (92 days) was carried out mimicking realistic conditions of pressure (∼30 bars) using the unique hyperbaric chamber (Karl Erik TiTank). The experiment was divided in three stages: i) 21 days of no CO2, ii) 50 days of simulation of carbon dioxide leakage (depletion of pH to 7.0) and iii) 14 days emulating a leakage cessation. Results suggested that bacterial communities can adapt to a CO2 leakage in short term. However, bacteria showed negative effects in terms of activity, community structure, and number of cells after long term CO2 exposure. After CO2 leakage cessation, bacterial communities did not show a significant recovery. These findings highlighted that, even though marine bacteria showed adaptation to the new conditions (acidified environment), in case of a small but continuous CO2 leakage marine bacteria might not be recovered upon pre-exposure status.

    Continue reading ‘Response of bacterial communities in Barents Sea sediments in case of a potential CO2 leakage from carbon reservoirs’

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    Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

    OUP book