Posts Tagged 'light'

Coral calcification mechanisms in a warming ocean and the interactive effects of temperature and light

Ocean warming is transforming the world’s coral reefs, which are governed by the growth of marine calcifiers, most notably branching corals. Critical to skeletal growth is the corals’ regulation of their internal chemistry to promote calcification. Here we investigate the effects of temperature and light on the calcifying fluid chemistry (using boron isotope systematics), calcification rates, metabolic rates and photo-physiology of Acropora nasuta during two mesocosm experiments simulating seasonal and static temperature and light regimes. Under the seasonal regime, coral calcification rates, calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry, photo-physiology and metabolic productivity responded to both changes in temperature and light. However, under static conditions the artificially prolonged exposure to summer temperatures resulted in heat stress and a heightened sensitivity to light. Our results indicate that temperature and light effects on coral physiology and calcification mechanisms are interactive and context-specific, making it essential to conduct realistic multi-variate dynamic experiments in order to predict how coral calcification will respond to ocean warming.

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Responses of a natural phytoplankton community from the Drake Passage to two predicted climate change scenarios

Contrasting models predict two different climate change scenarios for the Southern Ocean (SO), forecasting either less or stronger vertical mixing of the water column. To investigate the responses of SO phytoplankton to these future conditions, we sampled a natural diatom dominated (63%) community from today’s relatively moderately mixed Drake Passage waters with both low availabilities of iron (Fe) and light. The phytoplankton community was then incubated at these ambient open ocean conditions (low Fe and low light, moderate mixing treatment), representing a control treatment. In addition, the phytoplankton was grown under two future mixing scenarios based on current climate model predictions. Mixing was simulated by changes in light and Fe availabilities. The two future scenarios consisted of a low mixing scenario (low Fe and higher light) and a strong mixing scenario (high Fe and low light). In addition, communities of each mixing scenario were exposed to ambient and low pH, the latter simulating ocean acidification (OA). The effects of the scenarios on particulate organic carbon (POC) production, trace metal to carbon ratios, photophysiology and the relative numerical contribution of diatoms and nanoflagellates were assessed. During the first growth phase, at ambient pH both future mixing scenarios promoted the numerical abundance of diatoms (∼75%) relative to nanoflagellates. This positive effect, however, vanished in response to OA in the communities of both future mixing scenarios (∼65%), with different effects for their productivity. At the end of the experiment, diatoms remained numerically the most abundant phytoplankton group across all treatments (∼80%). In addition, POC production was increased in the two future mixing scenarios under OA. Overall, this study suggests a continued numerical dominance of diatoms as well as higher carbon fixation in response to both future mixing scenarios under OA, irrespective of different changes in light and Fe availability.

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High-latitude calcified coralline algae exhibit seasonal vulnerability to acidification despite physical proximity to a non-calcified alga


  • High-latitude coralline algae face dissolution under future winter acidification.
  • Seasonal light exposure variation may be too low to impact coralline calcification.
  • Interaction with a fleshy alga may not benefit corallines’ response to acidification.


The emergent responses of vulnerable species to global change can vary depending on the relative quality of resources available to support their productivity under increased stress, as well as the biotic interactions with other species that may alter their access to these resources. This research tested how seawater pCO2 may interact with seasonal light availability to affect the photosynthesis and calcification of high-latitude coralline algae, and whether the responses of these calcified macroalgae are modified by physical association with a non-calcified seaweed. Through an in situ approach, our study first investigated how current seasonal environmental variation affects the growth of the understory coralline algae Crusticorallina spp. and Bossiella orbigniana in Southeast Alaska’s kelp forests. We then experimentally manipulated pH to simulate end-of-century acidification scenarios, light regime to simulate seasonal light availability at the benthos, and pairings of coralline algal species with and without a fleshy red alga to examine the interactive effects of these variables on coralline productivity and calcification. Our results indicate that: 1) coralline species may face net dissolution under projected future winter pH and carbonate saturation state conditions, 2) differences in seasonal light availability in productive, high-latitude waters may not be distinct enough to modify coralline algal net calcification, and 3) association with a non-calcified red alga does not alter the response of these coralline algal species to ocean acidification scenarios. This research highlights the necessity of incorporating locally informed scenarios of environmental variability and community interactions when predicting species’ vulnerability to global change.

Continue reading ‘High-latitude calcified coralline algae exhibit seasonal vulnerability to acidification despite physical proximity to a non-calcified alga’

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.

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

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.

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Transgenerational effects decrease larval resilience to ocean acidification & warming but juvenile European sea bass could benefit from higher temperatures in the NE Atlantic

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ocean acidification (OA) and warming (OW) as well as the transgenerational effect of OA on larval and juvenile growth and metabolism of a large economically important fish species with a long generation time. Therefore we incubated European sea bass from Brittany (France) for two generations (>5 years in total) under current and predicted OA conditions (PCO2: 650 and 1700 µatm). In the F1 generation both OA condition were crossed with OW (temperature: 15-18°C and 20-23°C). We found that OA alone did not affect larval or juvenile growth and OW increased developmental time and growth rates, but OAW decreased larval size at metamorphosis. Larval routine metabolic rate (RMR) and juvenile standard metabolic rate (SMR) were significantly lower in cold compared to warm conditioned fish and also lower in F0 compared to F1 fish. We did not find any effect of OA on RMR or SMR. Juvenile PO2crit was not affected by OA, OW or OAW in both generations.

We discuss the potential underlying mechanisms resulting in beneficial effects of OW on F1 larval growth and RMR and in resilience of F0 and F1 larvae and juveniles to OA, but on the other hand resulting in vulnerability of F1, but not F0 larvae to OAW. With regard to the ecological perspective, we conclude that recruitment of larvae and early juveniles to nursery areas might decrease under OAW conditions but individuals reaching juvenile phase might benefit from increased performance at higher temperatures.

Summary statement We found that OA did not affect developmental time, growth, RMR and SMR, while OW increased these traits. OAW decreased larval size at metamorphosis. We discuss underlying mechanisms and the ecological perspective resulting from these results and conclude that recruitment to nursery areas might decrease under OAW conditions but individuals reaching juvenile phase might benefit from increased performance at higher temperatures in Atlantic waters.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational effects decrease larval resilience to ocean acidification & warming but juvenile European sea bass could benefit from higher temperatures in the NE Atlantic’

Ocean acidification reduces the growth of two Southern Ocean phytoplankton

Model projections for the Southern Ocean indicate that light, iron (Fe) availability, temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) will change concurrently in the future. We investigated the physiological responses of Southern Ocean phytoplankton to multiple variables by culturing the haptophyte Phaeocystis antarctica and the diatom Chaetoceros flexuosus under various combinations of light, Fe, temperature and CO2. Using statistical models, the influence of each environmental variable was analysed for each physiological response, ultimately predicting how ‘future’ conditions (high temperature and high CO2) influenced the two phytoplankton species. Under future conditions, cellular chlorophyll a and carbon to nitrogen molar ratios were modelled to increase for both species, in all light and Fe treatments, but at times were inconsistent with measured values. Measured and modelled values of the photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) declined in cultures of P. antarctica due to concurrent increases in temperature and CO2, under all light and Fe treatments. The trends in Fv/Fm for C. flexuosus were less clear. Our model and observations suggest that when temperature and CO2 are concurrently increased, the growth of both species remains largely unchanged. This modelling analysis reveals that high CO2 exerts a strong negative influence on the growth of both phytoplankton, and any ‘future’ increase in growth can be attributed to the positive effect of warming rather than a CO2 fertilisation effect.

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Reduced H+ channel activity disrupts pH homeostasis and calcification in coccolithophores at low ocean pH

Coccolithophores produce the bulk of ocean biogenic calcium carbonate but this process is predicted to be negatively affected by future ocean acidification scenarios. Since coccolithophores calcify intracellularly, the mechanisms through which changes in seawater carbonate chemistry affect calcification remain unclear. Here we show that voltage-gated H+ channels in the plasma membrane of Coccolithus braarudii serve to regulate pH and maintain calcification under normal conditions, but have greatly reduced activity in cells acclimated to low pH. This disrupts intracellular pH homeostasis and impairs the ability of C. braarudii to remove H+ generated by the calcification process, leading to specific coccolith malformations. These coccolith malformations can be reproduced by pharmacological inhibition of H+ channels. Heavily-calcified coccolithophore species such as C. braarudii, which make the major contribution to carbonate export to the deep ocean, have a large intracellular H+ load and are likely to be most vulnerable to future decreases in ocean pH.

Continue reading ‘Reduced H+ channel activity disrupts pH homeostasis and calcification in coccolithophores at low ocean pH’

Effects of climate change on metabolite accumulation in freshwater and marine cyanobacteria


  • Toxin profiles of marine and freshwater cyanobacteria.
  • Metabolomics of two microcystin producers using orbitrap mass spectrometry.
  • Different responses of cyanobacteria to CO2 induced pH level changes.
  • Semi-continuous culturing and CO2 micro-adjustment.


Global climate change and anthropogenic nutrient inputs are responsible for increased frequency of cyanobacterial blooms that potentially contain 55 classes of bioactive metabolites. This study investigated the effects of CO2 availability and concomittant pH levels on two cyanobacteria that produce microcystins: a marine cf. Synechocystis sp. and a freshwater Microcystis aeruginosa. Cyanobacterial strains were semi-continuously cultured in mesotrophic growth media at pH 7.5, 7.8, 8.2, and 8.5 via a combination of CO2 addition and control of alkalinity. The cell concentration between treatments was not significantly different and nutrient availability was not limited. Concentration of most known cyanobacterial bioactive metabolites in both cyanobacterial strains increased as CO2 increased. At pH 7.8, bioactive metabolite intracellular concentration in M. aeruginosa and Synechocystis was 1.5 and 1.2 times greater than the other three treatments, respectively. Intracellular concentration of microginin in M. aeruginosa at pH 7.5 was reduced by 90% compared to the other three treatments. Intracellular concentration of microcyclamide-bistratamide B was lower in M. aeruginosa and higher in Synechocystis at elevated CO2 concentration. M. aeruginosa products were more diverse metabolites than Synechocystis. The diversity of accumulated metabolites in M. aeruginosa increased as CO2 increased, whereas the metabolite diversity in Synechocystis decreased as pH decreased. Overall, intracellular concentration of bioactive metabolites was higher at greater CO2 concentrations; marine and freshwater cyanobacteria had different allocation products when exposed to differing CO2 environments.

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Elevated pCO2 enhances under light but reduces in darkness the growth rate of a diatom, with implications for the fate of phytoplankton below the photic zone

Experimentally elevated pCO2 and the associated pH drop are known to differentially affect many aspects of the physiology of diatoms under different environmental conditions or in different regions. However, contrasting responses to elevated pCO2 in the dark and light periods of a diel cycle have not been documented. By growing the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum under 3 light levels and 2 different CO2 concentrations, we found that the elevated pCO2/pH drop projected for future ocean acidification reduced the diatom’s growth rate by 8–25% during the night period but increased it by up to 9–21% in the light period, resulting in insignificant changes in growth over the diel cycle under the three different light levels. The elevated pCO2 increased the respiration rates irrespective of growth light levels and light or dark periods and enhanced its photosynthetic performance during daytime. With prolonged exposure to complete darkness, simulating the sinking process in the dark zones of the ocean, the growth rates decreased faster under elevated pCO2, along with a faster decline in quantum yield and cell size. Our results suggest that elevated pCO2 enhances the diatom’s respiratory energy supplies to cope with acidic stress during the night period but enhances its death rate when the cells sink to dark regions of the oceans below the photic zone, with implications for a possible acidification-induced reduction in vertical transport of organic carbon.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 enhances under light but reduces in darkness the growth rate of a diatom, with implications for the fate of phytoplankton below the photic zone’

Low irradiance amplifies negative effects of ocean acidification on recruitment of coralline algae communities

Coralline algae play foundational roles in coastal ecosystems and are globally significant components of benthic habitats down to the limits of the photic zone. Despite their vulnerability to ocean acidification (OA) and importance in low light environments, there is a limited understanding of how the interplay between irradiance and OA influences coralline reproduction and recruitment. To better understand this interaction, a 212-day experiment was run exposing coralline communities to two pH(T) levels (present-day pH(T) 8.07/ OA pH(T) 7.65) and a gradient of daily light dose (0.35, 0.17 and 0.1 mol m-2 d-1), based on in situ measurements. In the highest light dose treatment, lowered seawater pH projected for 2100 (pH(T) 7.65) reduced recruitment by 56%. This OA-driven reduction in recruitment was amplified under reduced light, with recruitment near zero in the lowest light treatment. This study shows, for the first time, the increased vulnerability of coralline community recruitment to OA under low light. Coralline algae are known to be the deepest growing macroalgae and thus, in these low light zones, OA many have the potential to reduce coralline depth distribution.

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Simplification, not “tropicalization”, of temperate marine ecosystems under ocean warming and acidification

Ocean warming is altering the biogeographical distribution of marine organisms. In the tropics, rising sea surface temperatures are restructuring coral reef communities with sensitive species being lost. At the biogeographical divide between temperate and tropical communities, warming is causing macroalgal forest loss and the spread of tropical corals, fishes and other species, termed “tropicalization”. A lack of field research into the combined effects of warming and ocean acidification means there is a gap in our ability to understand and plan for changes in coastal ecosystems. Here, we focus on the tropicalization trajectory of temperate marine ecosystems becoming coral-dominated systems. We conducted field surveys and in situ transplants at natural analogues for present and future conditions under (i) ocean warming and (ii) both ocean warming and acidification at a transition zone between kelp and coral-dominated ecosystems. We show that increased herbivory by warm-water fishes exacerbates kelp forest loss and that ocean acidification negates any benefits of warming for range extending tropical corals growth and physiology at temperate latitudes. Our data show that, as the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming ratchet up, marine coastal ecosystems lose kelp forests but do not gain scleractinian corals. Ocean acidification plus warming leads to overall habitat loss and a shift to simple turf-dominated ecosystems, rather than the complex coral-dominated tropicalized systems often seen with warming alone. Simplification of marine habitats by increased CO2 levels cascades through the ecosystem and could have severe consequences for the provision of goods and services.

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Impact of increasing carbon dioxide on dinitrogen and carbon fixation rates under oligotrophic conditions and simulated upwelling

Dinitrogen (N2) fixation is a major source of bioavailable nitrogen to oligotrophic ocean communities. Yet, we have limited understanding how ongoing climate change could alter N2 fixation. Most of our understanding is based on short-term laboratory experiments conducted on individual N2-fixing species whereas community-level approaches are rare. In this longer-term in situ mesocosm study, we aimed to improve our understanding on the role of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and simulated deep water upwelling on N2 and carbon (C) fixation rates in a natural oligotrophic plankton community. We deployed nine mesocosms in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean and enriched seven of these with CO2 to yield a range of treatments (partial pressure of CO2pCO2 = 352–1025 μatm). We measured rates of N2 and C fixation in both light and dark incubations over the 55-day study period. High pCO2 negatively impacted light and dark N2 fixation rates in the oligotrophic phase before simulated upwelling, while the effect reversed in the light N2 fixation rates in the bloom decay phase after added nutrients were consumed. Dust deposition and simulated upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water increased N2 fixation rates and nifH gene abundances of selected clades including the unicellular diazotrophic cyanobacterium clade UCYN-B. Elevated pCO2 increased C fixation rates in the decay phase. We conclude that elevated pCO2 and pulses of upwelling have pronounced effects on diazotrophy and primary producers, and upwelling and dust deposition modify the pCO2 effect in natural assemblages.

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Online-coupling of widely-ranged timescales to model coral reef development


  • A biophysical model framework for coral reef evolution is developed.
  • The model can be used to predict the coral response to the environment via process-based relations.
  • The model bridges the gap in timescales of processes from seconds to millennia.
  • Model predictions are within the accuracy of climate projections.
  • The model is an efficient tool for forecasting coral reef development to inform policy makers.


The increasing pressure on Earth’s ecosystems due to climate change is becoming more and more evident and the impacts of climate change are especially visible on coral reefs. Understanding how climate change interacts with the physical environment of reefs to impact coral growth and reef development is critically important to predicting the persistence of reefs into the future. In this study, a biophysical model was developed including four environmental factors in a feedback loop with the coral’s biology: (1) light; (2) hydrodynamics; (3) temperature; and (4) pH. The submodels are online coupled, i.e. regularly exchanging information and feedbacks while the model runs. This ensures computational efficiency despite the widely-ranged timescales. The composed biophysical model provides a significant step forward in understanding the processes that modulate the evolution of coral reefs, as it is the first construction of a model in which the hydrodynamics are included in the feedback loop.

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Calcification in free-living coralline algae is strongly influenced by morphology: implications for susceptibility to ocean acidification

Rhodolith beds built by free-living coralline algae are important ecosystems for marine biodiversity and carbonate production. Yet, our mechanistic understanding regarding rhodolith physiology and its drivers is still limited. Using three rhodolith species with different branching morphologies, we investigated the role of morphology in species’ physiology and the implications for their susceptibility to ocean acidification (OA). For this, we determined the effects of thallus topography on diffusive boundary layer (DBL) thickness, the associated microscale oxygen and pH dynamics and their relationship with species’ metabolic and light and dark calcification rates, as well as species’ responses to short-term OA exposure. Our results show that rhodolith branching creates low-flow microenvironments that exhibit increasing DBL thickness with increasing branch length. This, together with species’ metabolic rates, determined the light-dependent pH dynamics at the algal surface, which in turn dictated species’ calcification rates. While these differences did not translate in species-specific responses to short-term OA exposure, the differences in the magnitude of diurnal pH fluctuations (~ 0.1–1.2 pH units) between species suggest potential differences in phenotypic plasticity to OA that may result in different susceptibilities to long-term OA exposure, supporting the general view that species’ ecomechanical characteristics must be considered for predicting OA responses.

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Circadian rhythm disturbances due to exposure to acidified conditions and different photoperiods in juvenile olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is being continuously discharged into the atmosphere and is now at a concentration sufficient to cause ocean acidification. In particular, it has been reported that changes in carbonate concentration in seawater by ocean acidification can inhibit olfactory function and predator avoidance ability in fish and affect their circadian rhythm. However, although increased CO2 concentration in seawater is an important environmental factor affecting fish survival, only a few studies have been conducted to evaluate the effect of CO2 and different photoperiods. Therefore, in this study, we investigated changes in the circadian rhythm of juvenile olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus) under different light conditions (12 h ligh:12 h dark; constant dark; constant light) and CO2 exposure levels (pH 8.1, 7.8, and 7.5), by analyzing changes in plasma concentrations of Cryptochrome1 and Period2, which are secreted during the day (light conditions), and melatonin, which is secreted at night (dark conditions). CO2 exposure led to phase shifts (temporarily abolished, phase delayed, or reversed) in the rhythm of juveniles. In conclusion, CO2 exposure, along with changes in photoperiods, increases the disturbance in the circadian rhythm of juvenile P. olivaceus.

Continue reading ‘Circadian rhythm disturbances due to exposure to acidified conditions and different photoperiods in juvenile olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus)’

Diel transcriptional oscillations of a plastid antiporter reflect increased resilience of Thalassiosira pseudonana in elevated CO2

Acidification of the ocean due to high atmospheric CO2 levels may increase the resilience of diatoms causing dramatic shifts in abiotic and biotic cycles with lasting implications on marine ecosystems. Here, we report a potential bioindicator of a shift in the resilience of a coastal and centric model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana under elevated CO2. Specifically, we have discovered, through EGFP-tagging, a plastid membrane localized putative Na+(K+)/H+ antiporter that is significantly upregulated at >800 ppm CO2, with a potentially important role in maintaining pH homeostasis. Notably, transcript abundance of this antiporter gene was relatively low and constant over the diel cycle under contemporary CO2 conditions. In future acidified oceanic conditions, dramatic oscillation with >10-fold change between nighttime (high) and daytime (low) transcript abundances of the antiporter was associated with increased resilience of T. pseudonana. By analyzing metatranscriptomic data from the Tara Oceans project, we demonstrate that phylogenetically diverse diatoms express homologs of this antiporter across the globe. We propose that the differential between night- and daytime transcript levels of the antiporter could serve as a bioindicator of a shift in the resilience of diatoms in response to high CO2 conditions in marine environments.

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Biogeochemical feedbacks to ocean acidification in a cohesive photosynthetic sediment

Ecosystem feedbacks in response to ocean acidification can amplify or diminish the diel pH oscillations that characterize productive coastal waters. We report that benthic microalgae generate such oscillations in the porewater of cohesive sediment and ask how carbonation (acidification) of the overlying seawater alters these in the absence and presence of biogenic calcite. To do so, we placed a 1-mm layer of ground oyster shells (Treatment) or sand (Control) onto intact sediment cores free of large dwelling fauna, and then gradually increased the pCO2 in the seawater above half of the Treatment and Control cores from 472 to 1216 μatm (pH 8.0 to 7.6, CO2:HCO3 from 4.8 to 9.6 x 10-4). Vertical porewater [O2] and [H+] microprofiles measured 16 d later showed that this carbonation had decreased O2 penetration in all cores, indicating a metabolic response. In carbonated seawater: (1) sediment biogeochemical processes added and removed more H+ to and from the porewater in darkness and light, respectively, than in ambient seawater increasing the amplitude of the dark–light porewater [H+] oscillations, and (2) the dissolution of calcite decreased the porewater [H+] below that in overlying seawater, reversing the dark sediment–seawater H+ flux and decreasing the amplitude of diel [H+] oscillations. This dissolution did not, however, counter the negative effect of carbonation on sediment O2 penetration. We hypothesise that the latter effect and the observed enhanced acidification of the sediment porewater were caused by an ecosystem feedback: a CO2-induced increase in the microbial reoxidation of reduced solutes with O2.

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Increased light availability modulates carbon and nitrogen accumulation in the macroalga Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis (Rhodophyta) in response to ocean acidification


  • The effects of light and elevated pCO2 on Gracilariopsis were examined.
  • Ocean acidification enhanced algal biomass, photosynthesis and total C/N ratios.
  • Increasing light and elevated pCO2 lowered nutritional quality of G. lemaneiformis.


The economically important red macroalga Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis has demonstrated positive ecological functions in nutrient bioextraction efficiency and high harvestable biomass, as well as being a food and agar source owing to its richness in proteins and polysaccharides. Carbon dioxide (CO2)-induced ocean acidification has resulted in mixed nutrient compound accumulations in this marine autotroph. G. lemaneiformis also experiences light variations resulting from self-shading and varied cultivation depths. Therefore, a factorial coupling experiment was conducted to examine how growth, photosynthesis performance, soluble cell components and metabolic enzyme-driven activities respond to light availability changes and CO2 enrichment. The ocean acidification enhanced the growth characteristics, total carbon/nitrogen ratios and metabolic nutrient accumulation processes in G. lemaneiformis regardless of the light level. Photosynthetic performances, including relative electron transport rate and maximum photochemical quantum yield, were increased by high pCO2 concentrations, resulting in soluble carbohydrate accumulation. The carbon and nitrogen accumulations might result from variations in carbonic anhydrase and nitrate reductase activities under high pCO2 conditions. The soluble protein and free amino acids contents declined in response to CO2 elevation, and this effect was more pronounced as the light intensity increased. Thus, future climate changes may cause greater algal biomass accumulations, but they may negatively affect the cell composition and nutritional quality of G. lemaneiformis.

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