Posts Tagged 'growth'

Effects of ocean acidification on the physiological performance and carbon production of the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia sp. ICE-H

Ocean acidification (OA) resulting from increasing atmospheric CO2 strongly influences marine ecosystems, particularly in the polar ocean due to greater CO2 solubility. Here, we grew the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia sp. ICE-H in a semicontinuous culture under low (~ 400 ppm) and high (1000 ppm) CO2 levels. Elevated CO2 resulted in a stimulated physiological response including increased growth rates, chlorophyll a contents, and nitrogen and phosphorus uptake rates. Furthermore, high CO2 enhanced cellular particulate organic carbon production rates, indicating a greater shift from inorganic to organic carbon. However, the cultures grown in high CO2 conditions exhibited a decrease in both extracellular and intracellular carbonic anhydrase activity, suggesting that the carbon concentrating mechanisms of Nitzschia sp. ICE-H may be suppressed by elevated CO2. Our results revealed that OA would be beneficial to the survival of this sea ice diatom strain, with broad implications for global carbon cycles in the future ocean.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on the physiological performance and carbon production of the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia sp. ICE-H’

Elevated CO2 and associated seawater chemistry do not benefit a model diatom grown with increased availability of light

Elevated CO2 is leading to a decrease in pH in marine environments (ocean acidification [OA]), altering marine carbonate chemistry. OA can influence the metabolism of many marine organisms; however, no consensus has been reached on its effects on algal photosynthetic carbon fixation and primary production. Here, we found that when the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum was grown under different pCO2 levels, it showed different responses to elevated pCO2 levels under growth-limiting (20 µmol photons m-2 s-1, LL) compared with growth-saturating (200 µmol photons m-2 s-1, HL) light levels. With pCO2 increased up to 950 µatm, growth rates and primary productivity increased, but in the HL cells, these parameters decreased significantly at higher concentrations up to 5000 µatm, while no difference in growth was observed with pCO2 for the LL cells. Elevated CO2 concentrations reduced the size of the intracellular dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool by 81% and 60% under the LL and HL levels, respectively, with the corresponding photosynthetic affinity for DIC decreasing by 48% and 55%. Little photoinhibition was observed across all treatments. These results suggest that the decreased growth rates under higher CO2 levels in the HL cells were most likely due to acid stress. Low energy demand of growth and energy saving from the down-regulation of the CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCM) minimized the effects of acid stress on the growth of the LL cells. These findings imply that OA treatment, except for down-regulating CCM, caused stress on the diatom, reflected in diminished C assimilation and growth rates.

Continue reading ‘Elevated CO2 and associated seawater chemistry do not benefit a model diatom grown with increased availability of light’

Climate change and tropical sponges: The effect of elevated pCO₂ and temperature on the sponge holobiont

As atmospheric CO₂ concentrations rise, associated ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA) are predicted to cause declines in reef-building corals globally, shifting reefs from coral-dominated systems to those dominated by less sensitive species. Sponges are important structural and functional components of coral reef ecosystems, but despite increasing field-based evidence that sponges may be ‘winners’ in response to environmental degradation, our understanding of how they respond to the combined effects of OW and OA is limited. This PhD thesis explores the response of four abundant Great Barrier Reef species – the phototrophic Carteriospongia foliascens and Cymbastela coralliophila and the heterotrophic Stylissa flabelliformis and Rhopaloeides odorabile to OW and OA levels predicted for 2100, under two CO₂ Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). The overall aim of this research is to bridge gaps in our understanding of how these important coral reef organisms will respond to projected climate change, to begin to explore whether a sponge dominated state is a possible future trajectory for coral reefs.

To determine the tolerance of adult sponges to climate change, these four species were exposed to OW and OA in the Australian Institute of Marine Science’s (AIMS) National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) in a 3-month experimental study. The first data chapter explores the physiological responses of these sponges to OW and OA to gain a broad understanding of sponge holobiont survival and functioning under these conditions. In this chapter I also address the hypothesis that phototrophic and heterotrophic sponges will exhibit differential responses to climate change. In the second and third data chapters I explore the cellular lipid and fatty acid composition of sponges, and how these biochemical constituents vary with OW and OA. Lipids and fatty acids are not only vital energy stores, they form the major components of cell membranes, and the structure and composition of these biochemical constituents ultimately determines the integrity and physiological competency of a cell. Therefore through these analyses I aimed to determine how OW and OA affects the metabolic balance of sponges, and to understand mechanisms underpinning observed systemic sponge responses. Finally, to provide greater insight into the population level impacts of climate change on tropical sponges, in the last data chapter I explore the response of the phototrophic species Carteriospongia foliascens to OW/OA throughout its developmental stages.

I found that while sponges can generally tolerate climate change scenarios predicted under the RCP6.0 conditions for 2100 (30ºC/ pH 7.8), environmental projections for the end of this century under the RCP8.5 (31.5ºC/ pH 7.6) will have significant implications for their survival. Temperature effects were much stronger than OA effects for all species; however, phototrophic and heterotrophic species responded differently to OA. Elevated pCO₂ exacerbated temperature stress in heterotrophic sponges but somewhat ameliorated thermal stress in phototrophic species. Furthermore, sponges with siliceous spiculated skeletons resisted the RCP 8.5 conditions for longer than the aspiculate species. Biochemical analysis revealed that spiculated species also have greater cell membrane support features, which is likely to contribute to the observed stress tolerance. I also found that the additional energy available to phototrophic sponges under OA conditions may be used for investment into cell membrane support, providing protection against thermal stress. Finally, larval survival and settlement success of C. foliascens was unaffected by OW and OA treatments, and juvenile sponges exhibited greater tolerance than their adult counterparts, again with evidence that OA reduces OW stress for some of these life stages.

Based on the species studied here, this thesis confirms that sponges are better able to deal with OW and OA levels predicted for 2100 under RCP6.0, compared to many corals for which survival in a high CO₂ world requires OW to remain below 1.5°C. This suggests sponges may be future ‘winners’ on coral reefs under global climate change. However, if CO₂ atm concentrations reach levels predicted under RCP8.5, the prognosis for sponge survival by the end of this century changes as inter-species sponge tolerances to OW and OA differ. Under this projection it is likely we will also start to see a shift in sponge populations to those dominated by phototrophic sponges with siliceous spiculated skeletons. Overall, this thesis gives a holistic view of OW and OA impacts on tropical sponges and provides the basis from which to explore the potential for a sponge-coral regime shift in a high CO₂ world.

Continue reading ‘Climate change and tropical sponges: The effect of elevated pCO₂ and temperature on the sponge holobiont’

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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The complex effects of ocean acidification on the prominent N2-fixing cyanobacterium Trichodesmium

Acidification of seawater caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) is anticipated to influence the growth of dinitrogen (N2)–fixing phytoplankton, which contribute a large fraction of primary production in the tropical and subtropical ocean. We found that growth and N2-fixation of the ubiquitous cyanobacterium Trichodesmium decreased under acidified conditions, notwithstanding a beneficial effect of high CO2. Acidification resulted in low cytosolic pH and reduced N2-fixation rates despite elevated nitrogenase concentrations. Low cytosolic pH required increased proton pumping across the thylakoid membrane and elevated adenosine triphosphate production. These requirements were not satisfied under field or experimental iron-limiting conditions, which greatly amplified the negative effect of acidification.

Continue reading ‘The complex effects of ocean acidification on the prominent N2-fixing cyanobacterium Trichodesmium’

Effects of elevated nutrients and CO2 emission scenarios on three coral reef macroalgae

Coral reef macroalgae are expected to thrive in the future under conditions that are deleterious to the health of reef-building corals. Here we examined how macroalgae would be affected by exposure to future CO2 emission scenarios (pCO2 and temperature), enriched nutrients and combinations of both. The species tested, Laurencia intricata (Rhodophyta), Turbinaria ornata and Chnoospora implexa (both Phaeophyceae), have active carbon-concentrating mechanisms but responded differently to the treatments. L. intricata showed high mortality under nutrient enriched RCP4.5 (“reduced” CO2 emission) and RCP8.5 (“business-as-usual” CO2 emission) and grew best under pre-industrial (PI) conditions, where it could take up carbon using external carbonic anhydrase combined, potentially, with proton extrusion. T. ornata’s growth rate showed a trend for reduction under RCP8.5 but was unaffected by nutrient enrichment. In C. implexa, highest growth was observed under PI conditions, but highest net photosynthesis occurred under RCP8.5, suggesting that under RCP8.5, carbon is stored and respired at greater rates while it is directed to growth under PI conditions. None of the species showed growth enhancement under future scenarios, nutrient enrichment or combinations of both. This leads to the conclusion that under such conditions these species are unlikely to pose an increasing threat to coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated nutrients and CO2 emission scenarios on three coral reef macroalgae’

Impacts of CO2-induced ocean acidification on predator detection ability and developementof temperate fish

Ocean acidification, caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), is recognized as a serious threat to marine ecosystems. Until now, most studies have focused on marine calcifying organisms, due to dependence on calcium carbonate, which is likely to become limited under future acidification scenarios. Less attention has been given to fish, but recent studies on the early life stages suggest that behavior, growth, development and otolith size may be highly affected by increasing CO2 levels. Other studies, on the other hand, fail to detect negative effects, suggesting species-specific vulnerabilities to increasing concentrations of CO2 and point to a need of further research. Here we tested the effects of CO2-induced ocean acidification on the early life stages of a temperate marine fish, the clingfish Lepadogaster lepadogaster, by rearing larvae since hatching in control and high pCO2 conditions. Size-at-age metrics and otolith size were examined in pre-settlement stage larvae. Additionally, behavioral response to a predator odour was tested in L. lepadogaster larvae and in Atherina presbyter larvae, maintained in high pCO2 conditions. Recognition of predator odours is a key behavior for predator avoidance and survival, and is one of the most commonly affected behaviors in fishes exposed to high CO2 levels. Results suggest that early life stages of L. lepadogaster might be resilient to future scenarios of ocean acidification, whereas A. presbyter might be more susceptible, with potential impacts on its future survival. Future studies should address species capacity to adapt to the predicted ocean acidification over the next century.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of CO2-induced ocean acidification on predator detection ability and developementof temperate fish’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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