Posts Tagged 'growth'

The effects of mining tailings in the physiology of benthic algae: understanding the relation between mud’s inductive acidification and the heavy metal’s toxicity


• Mariana’s mud was evaluated for toxic effects of heavy metals and acidification.

• Sargassum cymosum and Hypnea musciformis were evaluated for physiological responses.

• The presence of mud and acidic conditions caused lethality and metabolic damages.

• The acidified condition had the greatest impact over physiology of both species.

• The toxicity effects of mining tailings are intensified by abiotic changes.


The direct and indirect effects of mining tailing on macroalgae were evaluated in vitro to determine the relationship between heavy metals toxicity and pH alterations caused by the presence of pollutants. The marine brown seaweed Sargassum cymosum (C. Hagard 1820) and its main epiphytic alga, the red seaweed Hypnea pseudomusciformis (Nauer, Cassano, Oliveira, 2015), were exposed to Mariana’s mud in cross treatments, including presence or absence of mud, and normal (˜8.0) or acidic (˜7.0) pH conditions. The effects of different biological conditions were also evaluated in two treatments, with seaweed in isolated or associative conditions, for a seven-day period. The measured variables were growth rates and metabolic descriptors, such as chlorophyll a, phenolic compounds, total proteins, and the analysis of enzymatic activity, e.g. catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX), and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Kruskal-Wallis and post-hoc Dunn’s test were performed to evaluate the significant differences among treatments and biological conditions. Decreased growth rates in treatments with presence of mud or in acidic conditions were detected and probably related to deviations of metabolic energy towards the synthesis of defensive metabolites. Especially in the acidified culture medium, both algae species presented significant declines in pigments concentration, antioxidant compounds and an accentuated inhibition of enzymatic activity. The algal association was not beneficial for either species and H. pseudomusciformis was responsible for reducing the defensive ability of Sargassum against stressors. Considering the results, we infer that the physiological ability of both algae to resist metals and/or acidified conditions was affected not only by their mutual interference in each other, but also by the interaction between the abiotic parameters evaluated in this study.

Continue reading ‘The effects of mining tailings in the physiology of benthic algae: understanding the relation between mud’s inductive acidification and the heavy metal’s toxicity’

Ocean acidification interacts with variable light to decrease growth but increase particulate organic nitrogen production in a diatom


• Variable light decreased growth rate and pigmentation contents in both LC and HC.

• Cells grown under variable light appeared more tolerant of high light.

• HC and varying light decreased carbon fixation rate but increased POC and PON.

• HC and varying light lead to less primary productivity but more PON per biomass.


Phytoplankton in the upper oceans are exposed to changing light levels due to mixing, diurnal solar cycles and weather conditions. Consequently, effects of ocean acidification are superimposed upon responses to variable light levels. We therefore grew a model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana under either constant or variable light but at the same daily photon dose, with current low (400 μatm, LC) and future high CO2 (1000 μatm, HC) treatments. Variable light, compared with the constant light regime, decreased the growth rate, Chl a, Chl c, and carotenoid contents under both LC and HC conditions. Cells grown under variable light appeared more tolerant of high light as indicated by higher maximum relative electron transport rate and saturation light. Light variation interacted with high CO2/lowered pH to decrease the carbon fixation rate, but increased particulate organic carbon (POC) and particularly nitrogen (PON) per cell, which drove a decrease in C/N ratio, reflecting changes in the efficiency of energy transfer from photo-chemistry to net biomass production. Our results imply that elevated pCO2 under varying light conditions can lead to less primary productivity but more PON per biomass of the diatom, which might improve the food quality of diatoms and thereby influence biogeochemical nitrogen cycles.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification interacts with variable light to decrease growth but increase particulate organic nitrogen production in a diatom’

Within- and trans-generational responses to combined global changes are highly divergent in two congeneric species of marine annelids

Trans-generational plasticity (TGP) represents a primary mechanism for guaranteeing species persistence under rapid global changes. To date, no study on TGP responses of marine organisms to global change scenarios in the ocean has been conducted on phylogenetically closely related species, and we thus lack a true appreciation for TGP inter-species variation. Consequently, we examined the tolerance and TGP of life-history and physiological traits in two annelid species within the genus Ophryotrocha: one rare (O. robusta) and one common (O. japonica). Both species were exposed over two generations to ocean acidification (OA) and warming (OW) in isolation and in combination (OAW). Warming scenarios led to a decrease in energy production together with an increase in energy requirements, which was lethal for O. robusta before viable offspring could be produced by the F1. Under OA conditions, O. robusta was able to reach the second generation, despite showing lower survival and reproductive performance when compared to control conditions. This was accompanied by a marked increase in fecundity and egg volume in F2 females, suggesting high capacity for TGP under OA. In contrast, O. japonica thrived under all scenarios across both generations, maintaining its fitness levels via adjusting its metabolomic profile. Overall, the two species investigated show a great deal of difference in their ability to tolerate and respond via TGP to future global changes. We emphasize the potential implications this can have for the determination of extinction risk, and consequently, the conservation of phylogenetically closely related species.

Continue reading ‘Within- and trans-generational responses to combined global changes are highly divergent in two congeneric species of marine annelids’

Key biological responses over two generations of the sea urchin Echinometra sp. A under future ocean conditions

Few studies have investigated the effects of ocean warming and acidification on marine benthic organisms over ecologically relevant time scales. We used an environmentally controlled coral reef mesocosm system to assess growth and physiological responses of the sea urchin species Echinometra sp. A over 2 generations. Each mesocosm was controlled for temperature and pCO2 over 29 mo under 3 climate change scenarios (present day and predicted states in 2050 and 2100 under RCP 8.5). The system maintained treatment conditions including annual temperature cycles and a daily variation in pCO2. Over 20 mo, adult Echinometra exhibited no significant difference in size and weight among the treatments. Growth rates and respiration rates did not differ significantly among treatments. Urchins from the 2100 treatment had elevated ammonium excretion rates and reduced O2:N ratios, suggesting a change in catabolism. We detected no difference in spawning index scores or oocyte size after 20 mo in the treatments, suggesting that gonad development was not impaired by variations in pCO2 and temperature reflecting anticipated climate change scenarios. Larvae produced from experimentally exposed adults were successfully settled from all treatments and raised for 5 mo inside the mesocosm. The final size of these juveniles exhibited no significant difference among treatments. Overall, we demonstrated that the mesocosm system provided a near natural environment for this urchin species. Climate change and ocean acidification did not affect the benthic life stages investigated here. Importantly, in previous short-term (weeks to months) experiments, this species exhibited reductions in growth and gonad development, highlighting the potential for short-term experiments with non-acclimated animals to yield contrasting, possibly erroneous results.

Continue reading ‘Key biological responses over two generations of the sea urchin Echinometra sp. A under future ocean conditions’

Elevated pCO2 level affects the extracellular polymer metabolism of Phaeodactylum tricornutum

Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) play an important role in diatom physiology and carbon biogeochemical cycling in marine ecosystems. Both the composition and yield of EPS in diatom cells can vary with environmental changes. However, information on intracellular pathways and controls of both biochemical and genetic of EPS is limited. Further, how such changes would affect their critical ecological roles in marine systems is also unclear. Here, we evaluated the physiological characteristics, EPS yields, EPS compositions, and gene expression levels of Phaeodactylum tricornutum under elevated pCO2 levels. Genes and pathways related to EPS metabolism in P. tricornutum were identified. Carbohydrate yields in different EPS fractions increased with elevated pCO2 exposure. Although the proportions of monosaccharide sugars among total sugars did not change, higher abundances of uronic acid were observed under high pCO2 conditions, suggesting the alterations of EPS composition. Elevated pCO2 increased PSII light energy conversion efficiency and carbon sequestration efficiency. The up-regulation of most genes involved in carbon fixation pathways led to increased growth and EPS release. RNA-Seq analysis revealed a number of genes and divergent alleles related to EPS production that were up-regulated by elevated pCO2 levels. Nucleotide diphosphate (NDP)-sugar activation and accelerated glycosylation could be responsible for more EPS responding to environmental signals. Further, NDP-sugar transporters exhibited increased expression levels, suggesting roles in EPS over-production. Overall, these results provide critical data for understanding the mechanisms of EPS production in diatoms and evaluating the metabolic plasticity of these organisms in response to environmental changes.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 level affects the extracellular polymer metabolism of Phaeodactylum tricornutum’

Model simulation of seasonal growth of Fucus vesiculosus in its benthic community

Numerical models are a suitable tool to quantify impacts of predicted climate change on complex ecosystems but are rarely used to study effects on benthic macroalgal communities. Fucus vesiculosus L. is a habitat‐forming macroalga in the Baltic Sea and alarming shifts from the perennial Fucus community to annual filamentous algae are reported. We developed a box model able to simulate the seasonal growth of the Baltic Fucus–grazer–epiphyte system. This required the implementation of two state variables for Fucus biomass in units of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Model equations describe relevant physiological and ecological processes, such as storage of C and N assimilates by Fucus, shading effects of epiphytes or grazing by herbivores on both Fucus and epiphytes, but with species‐specific rates and preferences. Parametrizations of the model equations and required initial conditions were based on measured parameters and process rates in the near‐natural Kiel Outdoor Benthocosm (KOB) experiments during the Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification project. To validate the model, we compared simulation results with observations in the KOB experiment that lasted from April 2013 until March 2014 under ambient and climate‐change scenarios, that is, increased atmospheric temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide. The model reproduced the magnitude and seasonal cycles of Fucus growth and other processes in the KOBs over 1 yr under different scenarios. Now having established the Fucus model, it will be possible to better highlight the actual threat of climate change to the Fucus community in the shallow nearshore waters of the Baltic Sea.

Continue reading ‘Model simulation of seasonal growth of Fucus vesiculosus in its benthic community’

Effects of water acidification on Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis health status and metabolic rate: implications for immune responses and energy use

Increasing water CO2, aquatic hypercapnia, leads to higher physiological pCO2 levels in fish, resulting in an acidosis and compensatory acid-base regulatory response. Senegalese sole is currently farmed in super-intensive recirculating water systems where significant accumulation of CO2 in the water may occur. Moreover, anthropogenic releases of CO2 into the atmosphere are linked to ocean acidification. The present study was designed to assess the effects of acute (4 and 24 h) and prolonged exposure (4 weeks) to CO2 driven acidification (i.e., pH 7.9, 7.6, and 7.3) from normocapnic seawater (pH 8.1) on the innate immune status, gill acid-base ion transporter expression and metabolic rate of juvenile Senegalese sole. The acute exposure to severe hypercapnia clearly affected gill physiology as observed by an increase of NHE3b positive ionocytes and a decrease of cell shape factor. Nonetheless only small physiological adjustments were observed at the systemic level with (1) a modulation of both plasma and skin humoral parameters and (2) an increased expression of HIF-1 expression pointing to an adjustment to the acidic environment even after a short period (i.e., hours). On the other hand, upon prolonged exposure, the expression of several pro-inflammatory and stress related genes was amplified and gill cell shape factor was aggravated with the continued increase of NHE3b positive ionocytes, ultimately impacting fish growth. While these findings indicate limited effects on energy use, deteriorating immune system conditions suggest that Senegalese sole is vulnerable to changes in CO2 and may be affected in aquaculture where a pH drop is more prominent. Further studies are required to investigate how larval and adult Senegalese sole are affected by changes in CO2.

Continue reading ‘Effects of water acidification on Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis health status and metabolic rate: implications for immune responses and energy use’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book