Posts Tagged 'light'

Ocean acidification and high irradiance stimulate growth of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila

Ecophysiological studies on Antarctic cryptophytes to assess whether climatic changes such as ocean acidification and enhanced stratification affect their growth in Antarctic coastal waters in the future are lacking so far. This is the first study that investigated the combined effects of increasing availability of pCO2 (400 and 1000 µatm) and irradiance (20, 200 and 500 μmol photons m−2 s−1) on growth, elemental composition and photophysiology of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila. Under ambient pCO2, this species was characterized by a pronounced sensitivity to increasing irradiance with complete growth inhibition at the highest light intensity. Interestingly, when grown under high pCO2 this negative light effect vanished and it reached highest rates of growth and particulate organic carbon production at the highest irradiance compared to the other tested experimental conditions. Our results for G. cryophila reveal beneficial effects of ocean acidification in conjunction with enhanced irradiance on growth and photosynthesis. Hence, cryptophytes such as G. cryophila may be potential winners of climate change, potentially thriving better in more stratified and acidic coastal waters and contributing in higher abundance to future phytoplankton assemblages of coastal Antarctic waters.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and high irradiance stimulate growth of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila’

Impact of ocean acidification and high solar radiation on productivity and species composition of a late summer phytoplankton community of the coastal Western Antarctic Peninsula

The Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most productive regions of the Southern Ocean, is currently undergoing rapid environmental changes such as ocean acidification (OA) and increased daily irradiances from enhanced surface‐water stratification. To assess the potential for future biological CO2 sequestration of this region, we incubated a natural phytoplankton assemblage from Ryder Bay, WAP, under a range of pCO2 levels (180 μatm, 450 μatm, and 1000 μatm) combined with either moderate or high natural solar radiation (MSR: 124 μmol photons m−2 s−1 and HSR: 435 μmol photons m−2 s−1, respectively). The initial and final phytoplankton communities were numerically dominated by the prymnesiophyte Phaeocystis antarctica, with the single cells initially being predominant and solitary and colonial cells reaching similar high abundances by the end. Only when communities were grown under ambient pCO2 in conjunction with HSR did the small diatom Fragilariopsis pseudonana outcompete P. antarctica at the end of the experiment. Such positive light‐dependent growth response of the diatom was, however, dampened by OA. These changes in community composition were caused by an enhanced photosensitivity of diatoms, especially F. pseudonana, under OA and HSR, reducing thereby their competitiveness toward P. antarctica. Moreover, community primary production (PP) of all treatments yielded similar high rates at the start and the end of the experiment, but with the main contributors shifting from initially large to small cells toward the end. Even though community PP of Ryder Bay phytoplankton was insensitive to the changes in light and CO2 availability, the observed size‐dependent shift in productivity could, however, weaken the biological CO2 sequestration potential of this region in the future.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification and high solar radiation on productivity and species composition of a late summer phytoplankton community of the coastal Western Antarctic Peninsula’

A comparison of species specific sensitivities to changing light and carbonate chemistry in calcifying marine phytoplankton

Coccolithophores are unicellular marine phytoplankton and important contributors to global carbon cycling. Most work on coccolithophore sensitivity to climate change has been on the small, abundant bloom-forming species Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica. However, large coccolithophore species can be major contributors to coccolithophore community production even in low abundances. Here we fit an analytical equation, accounting for simultaneous changes in CO2 and light intensity, to rates of photosynthesis, calcification and growth in Scyphosphaera apsteinii. Comparison of responses to G. oceanica and E. huxleyi revealed S. apsteinii is a low-light adapted species and, in contrast, becomes more sensitive to changing environmental conditions when exposed to unfavourable CO2 or light. Additionally, all three species decreased their light requirement for optimal growth as CO2 levels increased. Our analysis suggests that this is driven by a drop in maximum rates and, in G. oceanica, increased substrate uptake efficiency. Increasing light intensity resulted in a higher proportion of muroliths (plate-shaped) to lopadoliths (vase shaped) and liths became richer in calcium carbonate as calcification rates increased. Light and CO2 driven changes in response sensitivity and maximum rates are likely to considerably alter coccolithophore community structure and productivity under future climate conditions.

Continue reading ‘A comparison of species specific sensitivities to changing light and carbonate chemistry in calcifying marine phytoplankton’

Effects of light and darkness on pH regulation in three coral species exposed to seawater acidification

The resilience of corals to ocean acidification has been proposed to rely on regulation of extracellular calcifying medium pH (pHECM), but few studies have compared the capacity of coral species to control this parameter at elevated pCO2. Furthermore, exposure to light and darkness influences both pH regulation and calcification in corals, but little is known about its effect under conditions of seawater acidification. Here we investigated the effect of acidification in light and darkness on pHECM, calcifying cell intracellular pH (pHI), calcification, photosynthesis and respiration in three coral species: Stylophora pistillata, Pocillopora damicornis and Acropora hyacinthus. We show that S. pistillata was able to maintain pHECM under acidification in light and darkness, but pHECM decreased in P. damicornis and A. hyacinthus to a much greater extent in darkness than in the light. Acidification depressed calcifying cell pHI in all three species, but we identified an unexpected positive effect of light on pHI. Calcification rate and pHECM decreased together under acidification, but there are inconsistencies in their relationship indicating that other physiological parameters are likely to shape how coral calcification responds to acidification. Overall our study reveals interspecies differences in coral regulation of pHECM and pHI when exposed to acidification, influenced by exposure to light and darkness.

Continue reading ‘Effects of light and darkness on pH regulation in three coral species exposed to seawater acidification’

Diurnal cycles of coral calcifying fluid aragonite saturation state

The sensitivity of corals to ocean acidification depends on the extent to which they can buffer their calcifying fluid aragonite saturation state (Ωcf) from declines in seawater pH. While the seasonal response of the coral calcifying fluid Ωcf to seawater pH has been studied previously, relatively little is known about Ωcf dynamics on shorter (daily) timescales, particularly whether it is sensitive to seawater pH. Here, we use alizarin dye to mark 4 days of skeletal growth in the corals Acropora nasuta and Pocillopora damicornis living in situ on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Exploiting newly developed confocal Raman spectroscopy techniques, we imaged the alizarin stains and quantified Ωcf between them. We report the first observations of diurnal Ωcf cycles, which were found in both species. Our results are consistent with either external control of Ωcf by seawater pH or light, or alternatively that Ωcf follows an endogenous circadian rhythm.

Continue reading ‘Diurnal cycles of coral calcifying fluid aragonite saturation state’

Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation

Marine phytoplankton such as bloom-forming, calcite-producing coccolithophores, are naturally exposed to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 280–400 nm) in the ocean’s upper mixed layers. Nevertheless, the effects of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2)-induced ocean acidification and warming have rarely been investigated in the presence of UVR. We examined calcification and photosynthetic carbon fixation performance in the most cosmopolitan coccolithophorid, Emiliania huxleyi, grown under high (1000 µatm, HC; pHT: 7.70) and low (400 µatm, LC; pHT: 8.02) CO2 levels, at 15 ∘C, 20 ∘C and 24 ∘C with or without UVR. The HC treatment did not affect photosynthetic carbon fixation at 15 ∘C, but significantly enhanced it with increasing temperature. Exposure to UVR inhibited photosynthesis, with higher inhibition by UVA (320–395 nm) than UVB (295–320 nm), except in the HC and 24 ∘C-grown cells, in which UVB caused more inhibition than UVA. A reduced thickness of the coccolith layer in the HC-grown cells appeared to be responsible for the UV-induced inhibition, and an increased repair rate of UVA-derived damage in the HC–high-temperature grown cells could be responsible for lowered UVA-induced inhibition. While calcification was reduced with elevated CO2 concentration, exposure to UVB or UVA affected the process differentially, with the former inhibiting it and the latter enhancing it. UVA-induced stimulation of calcification was higher in the HC-grown cells at 15 and 20 ∘C, whereas at 24 ∘C observed enhancement was not significant. The calcification to photosynthesis ratio (Cal ∕ Pho ratio) was lower in the HC treatment, and increasing temperature also lowered the value. However, at 20 and 24 ∘C, exposure to UVR significantly increased the Cal ∕ Pho ratio, especially in HC-grown cells, by up to 100 %. This implies that UVR can counteract the negative effects of the “greenhouse” treatment on the Cal ∕ Pho ratio; hence, UVR may be a key stressor when considering the impacts of future greenhouse conditions on E. huxleyi.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation’

Full in vivo characterization of carbonate chemistry at the site of calcification in corals

Reef-building corals form their calcium carbonate skeletons within an extracellular calcifying medium (ECM). Despite the critical role of the ECM in coral calcification, ECM carbonate chemistry is poorly constrained in vivo, and full ECM carbonate chemistry has never been characterized based solely on direct in vivo measurements. Here, we measure pHECM in the growing edge of Stylophora pistillata by simultaneously using microsensors and the fluorescent dye SNARF-1, showing that, when measured at the same time and place, the results agree. We then conduct microscope-guided microsensor measurements of pH, [Ca2+], and [CO32−] in the ECM and, from this, determine [DIC]ECM and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag), showing that all parameters are elevated with respect to the surrounding seawater. Our study provides the most complete in vivo characterization of ECM carbonate chemistry parameters in a coral species to date, pointing to the key role of calcium- and carbon-concentrating mechanisms in coral calcification.

Continue reading ‘Full in vivo characterization of carbonate chemistry at the site of calcification in corals’


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