Posts Tagged 'growth'

Assessing the effects of ocean warming and acidification on the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii

Seagrass beds serve as important carbon sinks, and it is thought that increasing the quantity and quality of such sinks could help to slow the rate of global climate change. Therefore, it will be important to (1) gain a better understanding of seagrass bed metabolism and (2) document how these high-productivity ecosystems are impacted by climate change-associated factors, such as ocean acidification (OA) and ocean warming (OW). A mesocosm-based approach was taken herein in which a tropical, Western Pacific seagrass species Thalassia hemprichii was cultured under either control or OA-simulating conditions; the temperature was gradually increased from 25 to 31 °C for both CO2 enrichment treatments, and it was hypothesized that this species would respond positively to OA and elevated temperature. After 12 weeks of exposure, OA (~1200 ppm) led to (1) increases in underground biomass and root C:N ratios and (2) decreases in root nitrogen content. Rising temperatures (25 to 31 °C) increased the maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv:Fm), productivity, leaf growth rate, decomposition rate, and carbon sequestration, but decreased the rate of shoot density increase and the carbon content of the leaves; this indicates that warming alone does not increase the short-term carbon sink capacity of this seagrass species. Under high CO2 and the highest temperature employed (31 °C), this seagrass demonstrated its highest productivity, Fv:Fm, leaf growth rate, and carbon sequestration. Collectively, then, it appears that high CO2 levels offset the negative effects of high temperature on this seagrass species. Whether this pattern is maintained at temperatures that actually induce marked seagrass stress (likely beginning at 33–34 °C in Southern Taiwan) should be the focus of future research.

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Individual-based modeling of shelled pteropods


  • First shelled pteropod individual-based model (IBM) based on Limacinidae species.
  • Shelled pteropod IBM reproduces the abundance signal measured at temperate latitudes.
  • The pteropod IBM provides the life-stage composition, and life-stage progression of populations.
  • IBM might be used for quantifying ongoing and future effects of climate change.


Shelled pteropods are cosmopolitan, free-swimming organisms of biogeochemical and commercial importance. They are widely used as sentinel species for the overall response of marine ecosystems to environmental stressors associated with climate change and changes in ocean chemistry. However, currently we are unable to project the effects of climate change on shelled pteropods at the population level, due to the missing spatio-temporal characterization of the response of pteropods to environmental stressors, and the limited information on the pteropod life history and life-cycle. In this study, we implement a shelled pteropod Individual-Based Model (IBM), i.e. we simulate a pteropod population as a set of discrete individuals over several generations, life-stages (eggs, larvae, juveniles and adults) and as a function of temperature, food availability, and aragonite saturation state. The model is able to provide an abundance signal that is consistent with the abundance signal measured in the temperate region. In addition, the modeled life-stage progression matches the reported size spectrum across the year, with two major spawning periods in spring and fall, and maturation in March and September. Furthermore, our IBM correctly predicts the abundance maxima of younger, smaller and potentially more susceptible life-stages in spring and winter. Thus, our model provides a tool for advancing our understanding of the response of pteropod populations to future environmental changes.

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A competitive advantage of middle-sized diatoms from increasing seawater CO2

Diatoms, one of the most important phytoplankton groups, fulfill their carbon demand from seawater mainly by obtaining passively diffused carbon dioxide (CO2) and/or actively consuming intracellular energy to acquire bicarbonate (HCO3). An anthropogenically induced increase in seawater CO2 reduces the HCO3 requirement of diatoms, potentially saving intracellular energy and benefitting their growth. This effect is commonly speculated to be most remarkable in larger diatoms that are subject to a stronger limitation of CO2 supply because of their smaller surface-to-volume ratios. However, we constructed a theoretical model for diatoms and revealed a unimodal relationship between the simulated growth rate response (GRR, the ratio of growth rates under elevated and ambient CO2) and cell size, with the GRR peaking at a cell diameter of ∼7 μm. The simulated GRR of the smallest diatoms was low because the CO2 supply was nearly sufficient at the ambient level, while the decline of GRR from a cell diameter of 7 μm was simulated because the contribution of seawater CO2 to the total carbon demand greatly decreased and diatoms became less sensitive to CO2 increase. A collection of historical data in CO2 enrichment experiments of diatoms also showed a roughly unimodal relationship between maximal GRR and cell size. Our model further revealed that the “optimal” cell size corresponding to peak GRR enlarged with the magnitude of CO2 increase but diminished with elevating cellular carbon demand, leading to projection of the smallest optimal cell size in the equatorial Pacific upwelling zone. Last, we need to emphasize that the size-dependent effects of increasing CO2 on diatoms are multifaceted, while our model only considers the inorganic carbon supply from seawater and optimal allocation of intracellular energy. Our study proposes a competitive advantage of middle-sized diatoms and can be useful in projecting changes in the diatom community in the future acidified high-CO2 ocean.

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The potential of kelp Saccharina japonica in shielding Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas from elevated seawater pCO2 stress

Ocean acidification (OA) caused by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration is predicted to have negative impacts on marine bivalves in aquaculture. However, to date, most of our knowledge is derived from short-term laboratory-based experiments, which are difficult to scale to real-world production. Therefore, field experiments, such as this study, are critical for improving ecological relevance. Due to the ability of seaweed to absorb dissolved carbon dioxide from the surrounding seawater through photosynthesis, seaweed has gained theoretical attention as a potential partner of bivalves in integrated aquaculture to help mitigate the adverse effects of OA. Consequently, this study investigates the impact of elevated pCO2 on the physiological responses of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas in the presence and absence of kelp (Saccharina japonica) using in situ mesocosms. For 30 days, mesocosms were exposed to six treatments, consisting of two pCO2 treatments (500 and 900 μatm) combined with three biotic treatments (oyster alone, kelp alone, and integrated kelp and oyster aquaculture). Results showed that the clearance rate (CR) and scope for growth (SfG) of C. gigas were significantly reduced by elevated pCO2, whereas respiration rates (MO2) and ammonium excretion rates (ER) were significantly increased. However, food absorption efficiency (AE) was not significantly affected by elevated pCO2. The presence of S. japonica changed the daytime pHNBS of experimental units by ~0.16 units in the elevated pCO2 treatment. As a consequence, CR and SfG significantly increased and MO2 and ER decreased compared to C. gigas exposed to elevated pCO2 without S. japonica. These findings indicate that the presence of S. japonica in integrated aquaculture may help shield C. gigas from the negative effects of elevated seawater pCO2.

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Natural analogues in pH variability and predictability across the coastal Pacific estuaries: extrapolation of the increased oyster dissolution under increased pH amplitude and low predictability related to ocean acidification

Coastal-estuarine habitats are rapidly changing due to global climate change, with impacts influenced by the variability of carbonate chemistry conditions. However, our understanding of the responses of ecologically and economically important calcifiers to pH variability and temporal variation is limited, particularly with respect to shell-building processes. We investigated the mechanisms driving biomineralogical and physiological responses in juveniles of introduced (Pacific; Crassostrea gigas) and native (Olympia; Ostrea lurida) oysters under flow-through experimental conditions over a six-week period that simulate current and future conditions: static control and low pH (8.0 and 7.7); low pH with fluctuating (24-h) amplitude (7.7 ± 0.2 and 7.7 ± 0.5); and high-frequency (12-h) fluctuating (8.0 ± 0.2) treatment. The oysters showed physiological tolerance in vital processes, including calcification, respiration, clearance, and survival. However, shell dissolution significantly increased with larger amplitudes of pH variability compared to static pH conditions, attributable to the longer cumulative exposure to lower pH conditions, with the dissolution threshold of pH 7.7 with 0.2 amplitude. Moreover, the high-frequency treatment triggered significantly greater dissolution, likely because of the oyster’s inability to respond to the unpredictable frequency of variations. The experimental findings were extrapolated to provide context for conditions existing in several Pacific coastal estuaries, with time series analyses demonstrating unique signatures of pH predictability and variability in these habitats, indicating potentially benefiting effects on fitness in these habitats. These implications are crucial for evaluating the suitability of coastal habitats for aquaculture, adaptation, and carbon dioxide removal strategies.

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Species specific responses to grazer cues and acidification in phytoplankton- winners and losers in a changing world

Phytoplankton induce defensive traits in response to chemical alarm signals from grazing zooplankton. However, these signals are potentially vulnerable to changes in pH and it is not yet known how predator recognition may be affected by ocean acidification. We exposed four species of diatoms and one toxic dinoflagellate to future pCO2 levels, projected by the turn of the century, in factorial combinations with predatory cues from copepods (copepodamides). We measured the change in growth, chain length, silica content, and toxin content. Effects of increased pCO2 were highly species specific. The induction of defensive traits was accompanied by a significant reduction in growth rate in three out of five species. The reduction averaged 39% and we interpret this as an allocation cost associated with defensive traits. Copepodamides induced significant chain length reduction in three of the four diatom species. Under elevated pCO2 Skeletonema marinoi reduced silica content by 30% and in Alexandrium minutum the toxin content was reduced by 30%. Using copepodamides to induce defensive traits in the absence of direct grazing provides a straightforward methodology to assess costs of defense in microplankton. We conclude that copepodamide signalling system is likely robust to ocean acidification. Moreover, the variable responses of different taxa to ocean acidification suggest that there will be winners and losers in a high pCO2 world, and that ocean acidification may have structuring effects on phytoplankton communities.

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Responses of sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus intermedius) with different sexes to CO2-induced seawater acidification: histology, physiology, and metabolomics


  • Impacts of seawater acidification on different sexes of Strongylocentrotus intermedius were investigated.
  • Specific growth rate and the numbers of mature gametes were measured.
  • A comparative metabolomics analysis was performed.
  • Sex-specific significantly differentially expressed metabolites were identified and annotated.
  • Male S. intermedius may be more sensitive than females in coping with seawater acidification.


Responses of different sexes of farmed Strongylocentrotus intermedius to chronic CO2-induced seawater acidification were investigated in 120-day lab-based experiments. Four experimental groups were set up as one control group and three seawater acidification groups. The results showed that 1) Specific growth rate and the numbers of mature gamete cells declined in a pH-dependent way in both sexes of adult S. intermedius. 2) There were differences in SDMs identified in females and males reared in acidified seawater reflecting sex-specific response variation in adult S. intermedius. 3) The number of altered metabolic pathways exhibited a linear increasing trend as seawater pH declined in both sexes of adult S. intermedius. Meanwhile seawater acidification might affect metabolic processes via changing the relative expression and activity of key enzymes controlling the corresponding metabolic pathways of adult S. intermedius.

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In contrast to diatoms, cryptophytes are susceptible to iron limitation, but not to ocean acidification

Previous field studies in the Southern Ocean (SO) indicated an increased occurrence and dominance of cryptophytes over diatoms due to climate change. To gain a better mechanistic understanding of how the two ecologically important SO phytoplankton groups cope with ocean acidification (OA) and iron (Fe) availability, we chose two common representatives of Antarctic waters, the cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila and the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata. Both species were grown at 2°C under different pCO2 (400 vs. 900 μatm) and Fe (0.6 vs. 1.2 nM) conditions. For P. subcurvata, an additional high pCO2 level was applied (1400 μatm). At ambient pCO2 under low Fe supply, growth of G. cryophila almost stopped while it remained unaffected in P. subcurvata. Under high Fe conditions, OA was not beneficial for P. subcurvata, but stimulated growth and carbon production of G. cryophila. Under low Fe supply, P. subcurvata coped much better with OA than the cryptophyte, but invested more energy into photoacclimation. Our study reveals that Fe limitation was detrimental for the growth of G. cryophila and suppressed the positive OA effect. The diatom was efficient in coping with low Fe, but was stressed by OA while both factors together strongly impacted its growth. The distinct physiological response of both species to OA and Fe limitation explains their occurrence in the field. Based on our results, Fe availability is an important modulator of OA effects on SO phytoplankton, with different implications on the occurrence of cryptophytes and diatoms in the future.

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Meta-analysis reveals variance in tolerance to climate change across marine trophic levels


  • First meta-analysis to determine climate change impacts on marine trophic levels
  • Extensive compilations of results from 1278 experiments, spanning 236 species and 18 phyla
  • Multi-level meta-analytic approach was used to deal with data non-independency.
  • Herbivore was the most sensitive level to climate change.
  • Higher trophic levels show stronger tolerance to climatic stressor.


Marine ecosystems are currently facing a variety of anthropogenic perturbations, including climate change. Trophic differences in response to climate change may disrupt ecological interactions and thereby threaten marine ecosystem function. Yet, we still do not have a comprehensive understanding of how different trophic levels respond to climate change stressors in marine ecosystems. By including 1278 experiments, comprising 236 different marine species from 18 different phyla in a meta-analysis of studies measuring the direct effect of ocean acidification and ocean warming on marine organisms, we found that higher trophic level species display greater tolerance to ocean acidification but greater sensitivity to warming. In contrast, marine herbivores were the most vulnerable trophic level to both acidification and warming. Such imbalances in the community and a general reduction of biodiversity and biomass in lower trophic levels can significantly disrupt the system and could drive negative bottom-up effects. In conclusion, with ocean acidification and elevated temperatures, there is an alarming risk that trophic disparity may disrupt species interactions, and thereby drive community destabilization under ocean climate change.

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Physiological acclimatization in Hawaiian corals following a 22-month shift in baseline seawater temperature and pH

Climate change poses a major threat to coral reefs. We conducted an outdoor 22-month experiment to investigate if coral could not just survive, but also physiologically cope, with chronic ocean warming and acidification conditions expected later this century under the Paris Climate Agreement. We recorded survivorship and measured eleven phenotypic traits to evaluate the holobiont responses of Hawaiian coral: color, Symbiodiniaceae density, calcification, photosynthesis, respiration, total organic carbon flux, carbon budget, biomass, lipids, protein, and maximum Artemia capture rate. Survivorship was lowest in Montipora capitata and only some survivors were able to meet metabolic demand and physiologically cope with future ocean conditions. Most M. capitata survivors bleached through loss of chlorophyll pigments and simultaneously experienced increased respiration rates and negative carbon budgets due to a 236% increase in total organic carbon losses under combined future ocean conditions. Porites compressa and Porites lobata had the highest survivorship and coped well under future ocean conditions with positive calcification and increased biomass, maintenance of lipids, and the capacity to exceed their metabolic demand through photosynthesis and heterotrophy. Thus, our findings show that significant biological diversity within resilient corals like Porites, and some genotypes of sensitive species, will persist this century provided atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are controlled. Since Porites corals are ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans and often major reef builders, the persistence of this resilient genus provides hope for future reef ecosystem function globally.

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Effects of elevated pCO2 on the photosynthetic performance of the sea ice diatoms Navicula directa and Navicula glaciei

Sea ice algal communities are generally dominated by pennate diatoms, which commonly occur at the ice-water interface and in brine channels. They also make a significant contribution to higher trophic levels associated with sea ice habitats. Here, the photosynthetic responses of two sea ice diatom species, Navicula directa and Navicula glaciei, to changes in pCO2 under controlled laboratory conditions were compared. pCO2 (390 ppm and 750 ppm) was manipulated to simulate a shift from present levels (1990) to predicted “IPCC year 2100 worst-case scenario” levels. To investigate these effects, a pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM) fluorometer was used to measure the photosynthetic performance. The ability of the sea ice algae to grow and photosynthesize within physio-chemical gradients in the sea ice suggests that both sea ice species are likely to be well adapted to cope with changes in pCO2 concentrations. Lower pH and higher pCO2 for 7 days resulted in increased biomass, especially for N. directa. However, a decline in photosynthetic capacity (rETRmax) was observed for both species (highest value 11.375 ± 0.163, control; and 8.322 ± 1.282, treatment). Navicula glaciei showed significant effects of elevated pCO2 (p < 0.05) on its photosynthetic response, while N. directa did not. Future changes in CO2 and pH may thus not significantly affect all diatoms but may lead to changes in the photosynthetic activities in some species.

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Ocean acidification exacerbates the inhibition of fluctuating light on the productivity of Ulva prolifera


  • High CO2 concentration improves the growth of Ulva prolifera.
  • Fluctuating light inhibit the growth of U. prolifera under high CO2 concentration condition.
  • Photosynthetic performance of U. prolifera was downgraded by fluctuating light and high CO2 concentration.


Ulva prolifera, a common species of green macroalgae, is often harmful-algal-bloom causative and significantly impacts local marine ecosystems. Previous studies on the physiological characteristics of U. prolifera have been conducted under constant light (CL). However, light in the natural environment continually changes, and little is known about fluctuating light (FL). Ocean acidification (OA) has been proposed to interact with dynamic surrounding environments to affect the physiological performance of macroalgae. Therefore, we investigated the combined effects of FL (80/300, alternating between 80 μmol photons m−2 s−1 for 2.5 h and 300 μmol photons m−2 s−1 for 1.5 h, with an average light intensity of 160 μmol photons m−2 s−1 and OA (1000 ppm CO2) on U. prolifera. The results clearly showed that FL had no significant effect on the relative growth rate (RGR), whereas OA obviously improved RGR. However, under FL-OA combination conditions, RGR was inhibited significantly, accompanied by a concomitant downgraded photosynthetic performance, while the photoprotective abilities were enhanced. The results would help us accurately predict the primary productivity of macroalgae in coastal waters under future OA conditions with irradiance fluctuations.

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Long-term effects of contrasting pCO2 levels on the scope for growth in the carnivorous gastropod Concholepas concholepas


  • Exposure time has a significant effect on most of the physiological responses
  • Scope for growth index decreased significantly with increases in pCO2
  • High pCO2 levels threat the growth and impact negatively snails’ fitness


We evaluated the effect of contrasting pCO2 levels: lower (390 μatm), moderate (700 μatm) and extreme (1000 μatm), on the scope for growth of the keystone snail Concholepas concholepas over an exposure period of 6 months. Juvenile snails were collected from rocky intertidal habitats and acclimated for 5 months to those pCO2 levels. Subsequently, three groups of snails were randomly taken (n = 7 for each treatment) and reared for an additional 1 month for each of the three pCO2 levels. Physiological traits related with energy gain and energy expenditure were quantified. The scope for growth index decreased significantly with increases in pCO2, yielding negative values throughout the experimental period for the snails exposed to 1000 μatm pCO2, probably due to the extra energy required to maintain their metabolic functions in balance. This suggests that future climate change scenarios with elevated pCO2 levels could threaten the growth and other basic functions of juvenile snails of this species.

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Calcification moderates the biochemical responses of Gephyrocapsa oceanica to ocean acidification

We compared the physiological performance of two sub-strains of coccolithophore Gephyrocapsa oceanica NIES-1318, the originally well-calcified strain, and its low-calcified counterpart that significantly decreased the capacity to calcify under present (400 µatm, LC) and elevated pCO2 (1000 µatm, HC) conditions. There were no significant differences in the growth rates between the two sub-strains under LC condition. The growth rates of both sub-strains reduced under HC conditions and the decrease was significantly higher in the high-calcified cells than the low-calcified ones. The low-calcified cultures exhibited reduced production rates of particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate organic nitrogen (PON), irrespective of CO2 conditions. The decrease in the PON production rates was considerably higher than that in the POC production rates. Compared with the high-calcified cells, a slight decrease was observed in cellular POC contents in the low-calcified cells, whereas cellular PON contents decreased more prominently. The POC/PON ratio showed no significant difference between the two pCO2 treatments in the high-calcified cultures, whereas elevated CO2 increased the rates in the low-calcified cells. We believe that the nitrogen acquisition by low-calcified cells was more susceptible to ocean acidification, probably due to a lack of stabilized microenvironment provided by coccoliths. Our results demonstrate that the calcification level can affect the biochemical responses of G. oceanica to ocean acidification, with likely consequences for marine biogeochemical cycling.

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In situ skeletal growth rates of the solitary cold-water coral Tethocyathus endesa from the Chilean Fjord region

Cold-water corals (CWC) can be found throughout a wide range of latitudes (79°N–78°S). Since they lack the photosymbiosis known for most of their tropical counterparts, they may thrive below the euphotic zone. Consequently, their growth predominantly depends on the prevalent environmental conditions, such as general food availability, seawater chemistry, currents, and temperature. Most CWC communities live in regions that will face CaCO3 undersaturation by the end of the century and are thus predicted to be threatened by ocean acidification (OA). This scenario is especially true for species inhabiting the Chilean fjord system, where present-day carbonate water chemistry already reaches values predicted for the end of the century. To understand the effect of the prevailing environmental conditions on the biomineralization of the CWC Tethocyathus endesa, a solitary scleractinian widely distributed in the Chilean Comau Fjord, a 12-month in situ experiment was conducted. The in situ skeletal growth of the test corals was assessed at two sites using the buoyant weight method. Sites were chosen to cover the naturally present carbonate chemistry gradient, with pH levels ranging between 7.90 ± 0.01 (mean ± SD) and 7.70 ± 0.02, and an aragonite saturation (Ωarag) between 1.47 ± 0.03 and 0.98 ± 0.05. The findings of this study provide one of the first in situ growth assessments of a solitary CWC species, with a skeletal mass increase of 46 ± 28 mg per year and individual, at a rate of 0.03 ± 0.02% day. They also indicate that, although the local seawater chemistry can be assumed to be unfavorable for calcification, growth rates of T. endesa are comparable to other cold-water scleractinians in less corrosive waters (e.g., Lophelia pertusa in the Mediterranean Sea).

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The Southern Ocean diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata flourished better under simulated glacial than interglacial ocean conditions: combined effects of CO2 and iron

The ‘Iron Hypothesis’ suggests a fertilization of the Southern Ocean by increased dust deposition in glacial times. This promoted high primary productivity and contributed to lower atmospheric pCO2. In this study, the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata, known to form prominent blooms in the Southern Ocean, was grown under simulated glacial and interglacial climatic conditions to understand how iron (Fe) availability (no Fe or Fe addition) in conjunction with different pCO2 levels (190 and 290 μatm) influences growth, particulate organic carbon (POC) production and photophysiology. Under both glacial and interglacial conditions, the diatom grew with similar rates. In comparison, glacial conditions (190 μatm pCO2 and Fe input) favored POC production by Psubcurvata while under interglacial conditions (290 μatm pCO2 and Fe deficiency) POC production was reduced, indicating a negative effect caused by higher pCO2 and low Fe availability. Under interglacial conditions, the diatom had, however, thicker silica shells. Overall, our results show that the combination of higher Fe availability with low pCO2, present during the glacial ocean, was beneficial for the diatom Psubcurvata, thus contributing more to primary production during glacial compared to interglacial times. Under the interglacial ocean conditions, on the other hand, the diatom could have contributed to higher carbon export due to its higher degree of silicification.

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Performance of a potentially invasive species of ornamental seaweed Caulerpa sertularioides in acidifying and warming oceans

Caulerpa, a (sub) tropical seaweed, is a notorious taxonomic group and an invasive seaweed worldwide. Similar to several species that have been introduced to benthic habitats through aquariums, Caulerpa sertularioides has also been introduced into Korean aquariums, although it is not native to the region. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate the potential of this species for invading domestic macroalgal habitats. Therefore, an indoor mesocosm experiment was conducted to examine the ecophysiological invasion risk of non-native seaweed C. sertularioides under various climate conditions and exposure to three future climate scenarios: acidification (doubled CO2), warming (5 °C increase from ambient temperature), and greenhouse (GR: combination of acidification and warming); additionally, we compared the invasion risk between future and present climates (control: 20 °C and 470 µatm CO2). High CO2 concentrations and increased temperatures positively affected the photosynthesis and growth of C. sertularioides. Photosynthesis and growth were more synergistically increased under GR conditions than under acidification and warming. Consequently, the performance of this potentially invasive species in the native macroalgal Korean habitat will be higher in the future in coastal environments. Therefore, proper management is required to prevent the geographic expansion of C. sertularioides in the Korean coastal ocean.

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Effects of variable daily light integrals and elevated CO2 on the adult and juvenile performance of two Acropora corals

Reef-building corals are subject to multi-day periods of reduced light and progressive ocean acidification. We experimentally assessed how adult and early post-settlement Acropora tenuis and A. hyacinthus corals responded to contrasting daily light integrals (DLI) and to multi-day variability in DLI, and whether contrasting DLIs altered the effects of ocean acidification. Four light treatments—three with stable DLIs (12.6, 7.6, 2.5 mol photons m−2 d−1) and one with variable DLI that averaged 7.6 mol photons m−2 d−1 were fully crossed with two levels of pCO2 (400 and 900 ppm) in a 63-day aquarium experiment. Adult coral growth and protein content declined as average DLI declined, regardless of whether DLI was stable or variable. In both species, photoacclimation was insufficient to compensate for low DLI, although both effective (φPSII) and maximum (Fv/Fm) quantum yields of photosystem two varied by < 5% between all stable DLI treatments. Under variable DLI, both species adjusted their φPSII on the day of change in DLI, whereas Fv/Fm remained relatively constant despite five-fold difference in DLI between days. Elevated CO2 increased protein content in adult A. tenuis at all DLIs, but otherwise had little effect on measured parameters. For juveniles, both species had reduced survival at low DLI due to overgrowth by Peyssonnelia algae, and A. tenuis growth was fastest at low DLI. Our study shows that the effects of multi-day periods of DLI reductions accumulate over time for corals, negatively affecting Acropora adult growth rates and juvenile survival, and hence slowing reef recovery after disturbance.

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Differences in organic carbon release between conchocelis and thalli of Pyropia haitanensis and responses to changes in light intensity and pH


  • DOC production rate of thallus was much higher than that of conchocelis.
  • DOC production rate of thallus tends to increase with light intensity.
  • Ocean acidification did not significantly change the DOC production rate of thallus.


The large-scale cultivation of macroalgae has the potential to act as a carbon sink because macroalgae can release a large amount of organic carbon into the surrounding seawater. However, this needs to be evaluated on the basis of the entire life cycle under a background of changes in pH and light intensity. The present study investigated the difference in organic carbon release between conchocelis and thallus stages of the economically important red alga Pyropia haitanensis in response to three light intensities (10, 50, and 500 μmol m−2 s−1) and two pH conditions (current pH: 8.1, projected future pH: 7.5). The study found that regardless of the light intensity and pH values, the growth rates, production rates of tissue carbon, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) of thalli tended to be higher than those of conchocelis, by more than 170%, 85%, and 106%, respectively. The DOC production rate was higher than the production rate of particulate organic carbon (POC) by at least two orders of magnitude. Positive correlations were found between growth rate and production rates of tissue carbon and growth rate and DOC production rate, but no clear relationship was found between growth and POC production. The DOC production rate of thallus tended to increase with light intensity but was not significantly influenced by ocean acidification. However, decay of tissue caused by exposure of the conchocelis to high light intensity resulted in increased POC and DOC production rates, indicating the complexity of organic carbon release by Phaitanensis. This study provides insights into the release of organic carbon during the complete life cycle of Phaitanensis, and the results can further our understanding of the carbon metabolism of this cultivated macroalgal species.

Continue reading ‘Differences in organic carbon release between conchocelis and thalli of Pyropia haitanensis and responses to changes in light intensity and pH’

Effect of increased CO2 on iron-light-CO2 co-limitation of growth in a marine diatom

Light affects iron (Fe) growth requirements in marine phytoplankton while CO2 can influence energy allocation and light sensitivity. Therefore, ongoing increases in seawater CO2 concentrations could impact the growth of Fe- and light-limited phytoplankton. In this study, Phaeodactylum tricornutum was used as a model diatom to examine the interactive effects of Fe, light, and CO2 on photosynthesis, growth, and protein expression in marine phytoplankton. Low concentration of biologically available inorganic iron (Fe′) and low-light intensity decreased specific rates of carbon (C)-fixation and growth, and the two together had an even greater effect, indicating a co-limitation. Increased partial pressure of CO2 from its current value (400 μatm) to 750 μatm had no effect at growth sufficient levels of Fe and light, but increased C-fixation and growth rate under Fe or light limitation, and had an even greater effect in Fe and light co-limited cells. The results suggest that ongoing increases in CO2 may increase C-fixation rates in Fe- and light-limited and co-limited regions, which cover at least 30% of the ocean. Measurements of photosynthetic proteins in photosystems II and I, and transcripts of proteins involved in CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs), photorespiration, and antioxidant protection, suggest that the benefit of increased CO2 in the Fe- and light-limited cells was from a downregulation of CCMs and resultant decreased demands for energy supplied from photosynthesis, and from decreased rates of photorespiration, which consumes photosynthetically produced ATP and NADPH. A decrease in oxidative stress with increased CO2 also contributed.

Continue reading ‘Effect of increased CO2 on iron-light-CO2 co-limitation of growth in a marine diatom’

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