Posts Tagged 'light'

Interaction matters: bottom-up driver interdependencies alter the projected response of phytoplankton communities to climate change

Phytoplankton growth is controlled by multiple environmental drivers, which are all modified by climate change. While numerous experimental studies identify interactive effects between drivers, large-scale ocean biogeochemistry models mostly account for growth responses to each driver separately and leave the results of these experimental multiple-driver studies largely unused. Here, we amend phytoplankton growth functions in a biogeochemical model by dual-driver interactions (CO2 and temperature, CO2 and light), based on data of a published meta-analysis on multiple-driver laboratory experiments. The effect of this parametrization on phytoplankton biomass and community composition is tested using present-day and future high-emission (SSP5-8.5) climate forcing. While the projected decrease in future total global phytoplankton biomass in simulations with driver interactions is similar to that in control simulations without driver interactions (5%–6%), interactive driver effects are group-specific. Globally, diatom biomass decreases more with interactive effects compared with the control simulation (−8.1% with interactions vs. no change without interactions). Small-phytoplankton biomass, by contrast, decreases less with on-going climate change when the model accounts for driver interactions (−5.0% vs. −9.0%). The response of global coccolithophore biomass to future climate conditions is even reversed when interactions are considered (+33.2% instead of −10.8%). Regionally, the largest difference in the future phytoplankton community composition between the simulations with and without driver interactions is detected in the Southern Ocean, where diatom biomass decreases (−7.5%) instead of increases (+14.5%), raising the share of small phytoplankton and coccolithophores of total phytoplankton biomass. Hence, interactive effects impact the phytoplankton community structure and related biogeochemical fluxes in a future ocean. Our approach is a first step to integrate the mechanistic understanding of interacting driver effects on phytoplankton growth gained by numerous laboratory experiments into a global ocean biogeochemistry model, aiming toward more realistic future projections of phytoplankton biomass and community composition.

Continue reading ‘Interaction matters: bottom-up driver interdependencies alter the projected response of phytoplankton communities to climate change’

Short-term responses of Corallina officinalis (rhodophyta) to global-change drivers in a stressful environment of Patagonia, Argentina

Over the last two decades, an increasing interest has arisen in the responses of primary producers to global-change drivers and, more recently, in the need to consider how those various drivers may interact. To understand how Corallina officinalis (hereafter Corallina) can be affected by future changing conditions, we investigated the short-term direct effects of co-occurring increased nutrient loads, solar radiation, and lower pH, assessing how these clustered drivers affected Corallina‘s overall physiological performance in a harsh Patagonian coastal environment. To describe the seasonal trend of the physiological parameters in the field, we sampled subtidal Corallina to determine their net oxygen production (NOP), pigments, and carbonate content (CC). Furthermore, we conducted seasonal 10-days experiments, simulating the conditions predicted for the year 2100 by the IPCC (RCP 8.5) —manipulating pH, nutrients, and irradiance—along with the current conditions. The pigments and carotenoids/chlorophyll-a ratio were, in general, constant in the field over the seasons; but the NOP and CC dropped in spring, when the carotenoids peaked. After the experiment, the highest carotenoid/chlorophyll-a ratio was registered in summer under both the currentand the predictedconditions and in winter under the predictedcondition. This lower physiological status was also reflected in almost all other variables. Thus, Corallina may display an acclimatation strategy to cope with high ultraviolet-radiation levels by adjusting its pigment composition to avoid photoinhibition. An understanding of how Corallina, as a habitat-forming species, will respond to future global-change may provide clues about the extent of effects on the ecosystem functions and services.

Continue reading ‘Short-term responses of Corallina officinalis (rhodophyta) to global-change drivers in a stressful environment of Patagonia, Argentina’

Anthropogenic changes to the nighttime environment

How the relative impacts of anthropogenic pressures on the natural environment vary between different taxonomic groups, habitats, and geographic regions is increasingly well established. By contrast, the times of day at which those pressures are most forcefully exerted or have greatest influence are not well understood. The impact on the nighttime environment bears particular scrutiny, given that for practical reasons (e.g., researchers themselves belong to a diurnal species), most studies on the impacts of anthropogenic pressures are conducted during the daytime on organisms that are predominantly day active or in ways that do not differentiate between daytime and nighttime. In the present article, we synthesize the current state of knowledge of impacts of anthropogenic pressures on the nighttime environment, highlighting key findings and examples. The evidence available suggests that the nighttime environment is under intense stress across increasing areas of the world, especially from nighttime pollution, climate change, and overexploitation of resources.

Continue reading ‘Anthropogenic changes to the nighttime environment’

Long-term adaptation to elevated temperature but not CO2 alleviates the negative effects of ultraviolet-B radiation in a marine diatom

Multifaceted changes in marine environments as a result of anthropogenic activities are likely to have a compounding impact on the physiology of marine phytoplankton. Most studies on the combined effects of rising pCO2sea surface temperature, and UVB radiation on marine phytoplankton were only conducted in the short-term, which does not allow to test the adaptive capacity of phytoplankton and associated potential trade-offs. Here, we investigated populations of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum that were long-term (∼3.5 years, ∼3000 generations) adapted to elevated CO2 and/or elevated temperatures, and their physiological responses to short-term (∼2 weeks) exposure of two levels of ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation. Our results showed that while elevated UVB radiation showed predominantly negative effects on the physiological performance of P. tricornutum regardless of adaptation regimes. Elevated temperature alleviated these effects on most of the measured physiological parameters (e.g., photosynthesis). We also found that elevated CO2 can modulate these antagonistic interactions, and conclude that long-term adaptation to sea surface warming and rising CO2 may alter this diatom’s sensitivity to elevated UVB radiation in the environment. Our study provides new insights into marine phytoplankton’s long-term responses to the interplay of multiple environmental changes driven by climate change.

Continue reading ‘Long-term adaptation to elevated temperature but not CO2 alleviates the negative effects of ultraviolet-B radiation in a marine diatom’

Reallocation of elemental content and macromolecules in the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to acclimate to climate change

Global climate change leads to simultaneous changes in multiple environmental drivers in the marine realm. Although physiological characterization of coccolithophores has been studied under climate change, there is limited knowledge on the biochemical responses of this biogeochemically important phytoplankton group to changing multiple environmental drivers. Here, we investigate the interactive effects of reduced phosphorus availability (4 to 0.4 µmol L−1), elevated pCO2 concentrations (426 to 946 µatm), and increasing light intensity (40 to 300 µmol photons m−2 s−1) on elemental content and macromolecules of the cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Reduced phosphorus availability reduces particulate organic nitrogen (PON) and protein contents per cell under 40 µmol photons m−2 s−1 but not under 300 µmol photons m−2 s−1. Reduced phosphorus availability and elevated pCO2 concentrations act synergistically to increase particulate organic carbon (POC) and carbohydrate contents per cell under 300 µmol photons m−2 s−1 but not under 40 µmol photons m−2 s−1. Reduced phosphorus availability, elevated pCO2 concentrations, and increasing light intensity act synergistically to increase the allocation of POC to carbohydrates. Under elevated pCO2 concentrations and increasing light intensity, enhanced carbon fixation could increase carbon storage in the phosphorus-limited regions of the oceans where E. huxleyi dominates the phytoplankton assemblages. In each type of light intensity, elemental-carbon-to-phosphorus (C:P) and nitrogen-to-phosphorus (N:P) ratios decrease with increasing growth rate. These results suggest that coccolithophores could reallocate chemical elements and energy to synthesize macromolecules efficiently, which allows them to regulate their elemental content and growth rate to acclimate to changing environmental conditions.

Continue reading ‘Reallocation of elemental content and macromolecules in the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to acclimate to climate change’

Photoinhibition of the picophytoplankter Synechococcus is exacerbated by ocean acidification

The marine picocyanobacterium Synechococcus accounts for a major fraction of the primary production across the global oceans. However, knowledge of the responses of Synechococcus to changing pCO2 and light levels has been scarcely documented. Hence, we grew Synechococcus sp. CB0101 at two CO2 concentrations (ambient CO2 AC:410 μatm; high CO2 HC:1000 μatm) under various light levels between 25 and 800 μmol photons m−2 s−1 for 10–20 generations and found that the growth of Synechococcus strain CB0101 is strongly influenced by light intensity, peaking at 250 μmol m−2 s−1 and thereafter declined at higher light levels. Synechococcus cells showed a range of acclimation in their photophysiological characteristics, including changes in pigment content, optical absorption cross section, and light harvesting efficiency. Elevated pCO2 inhibited the growth of cells at light intensities close to or greater than saturation, with inhibition being greater under high light. Elevated pCO2 also reduced photosynthetic carbon fixation rates under high light but had smaller effects on the decrease in quantum yield and maximum relative electron transport rates observed under increasing light intensity. At the same time, the elevated pCO2 significantly decreased particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate organic nitrogen (PON), particularly under low light. Ocean acidification, by increasing the inhibitory effects of high light, may affect the growth and competitiveness of Synechococcus in surface waters in the future scenario.

Continue reading ‘Photoinhibition of the picophytoplankter Synechococcus is exacerbated by ocean acidification’

Aquatic productivity under multiple stressors

Aquatic ecosystems are responsible for about 50% of global productivity. They mitigate climate change by taking up a substantial fraction of anthropogenically emitted CO2 and sink part of it into the deep ocean. Productivity is controlled by a number of environmental factors, such as water temperature, ocean acidification, nutrient availability, deoxygenation and exposure to solar UV radiation. Recent studies have revealed that these factors may interact to yield additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects. While ocean warming and deoxygenation are supposed to affect mitochondrial respiration oppositely, they can act synergistically to influence the migration of plankton and N2-fixation of diazotrophs. Ocean acidification, along with elevated pCO2, exhibits controversial effects on marine primary producers, resulting in negative impacts under high light and limited availability of nutrients. However, the acidic stress has been shown to exacerbate viral attacks on microalgae and to act synergistically with UV radiation to reduce the calcification of algal calcifiers. Elevated pCO2 in surface oceans is known to downregulate the CCMs (CO2 concentrating mechanisms) of phytoplankton, but deoxygenation is proposed to enhance CCMs by suppressing photorespiration. While most of the studies on climate-change drivers have been carried out under controlled conditions, field observations over long periods of time have been scarce. Mechanistic responses of phytoplankton to multiple drivers have been little documented due to the logistic difficulties to manipulate numerous replications for different treatments representative of the drivers. Nevertheless, future studies are expected to explore responses and involved mechanisms to multiple drivers in different regions, considering that regional chemical and physical environmental forcings modulate the effects of ocean global climate changes.

Continue reading ‘Aquatic productivity under multiple stressors’

Effects of elevated pCO2 on the response of coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to prolonged darkness

Although numerous studies have examined the responses of coccolithophores to ocean acidification, less is known on the fate of those calcifying organisms when they sink to the ocean’s aphotic regions. In this study, the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi was first grown under a regular 12/12 light/dark cycle at 20°C, exposed to both high (1000 μatm) and ambient CO2 (410 μatm) levels. The cultures were then transferred to continuous darkness for 96 h at 20°C or 16°C. We found that elevated CO2 decreased the specific growth rate while increasing the cellular particulate organic carbon (POC) and nitrogen (PON) contents and the POC/PON ratio of E. huxleyi in the light/dark period. After 96 h of dark acclimation, the cell abundance decreased more obviously at 20°C than at 16°C but showed no significant difference between the two CO2 treatments. The decrease in volumetric POC concentration was most prominent in the high CO2/20°C treatment and least in the ambient CO2/16°C treatment. At 16°C, the PON concentration increased in the high CO2 cultures and exhibited no change in the ambient CO2 cultures. While at 20°C, the PON concentration decreased significantly both under high and ambient CO2 conditions. The final POC/PON ratio showed no significant differences among the different temperature and CO2 treatments. Overall, a higher percentage of POC relative to that of PON was lost in darkness with increasing CO2 concentration, with potential implications for the ocean’s nutrient cycle.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated pCO2 on the response of coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to prolonged darkness’

Interaction of CO2 and light availability on photophysiology of tropical coccolithophorids (Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Ochosphaera sp.)

The study to examine the calcification rate, adaptation, and the biotic response of three tropical coccolithophorids (Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Ochosphaera sp) to changes in CO2 concentration. Three selected calcifying coccolitophorids were grown at batch culture with CO2 system at two levels of CO2 (385 and 1000 ppm) and two light dark periods. The parameters measured and calculation including growth rate, particulate organic carbon content, particulate inorganic carbon content, chlorophyll a, cell size, photosynthetic, organic, inorganic carbon production, photosynthesis, and calcification rate.  The results showed that there was a different response to carbonate chemistry changes and dark and light periods in any of the analyzed parameters.  The growth rate of three selected calcifying microalgae tested was decreasing significantly at high concentrations of CO2 (1000 ppm) treatment on 14:10 hour light: dark periods. However, there was no significant difference between the two CO2 concentrations where they were illuminated by 24 hours light in growth rate.  The increasing CO2 concentration and light-dark periods were species-specific responses to photosynthesis and calcification rate for three selected calcifying microalgae.

Continue reading ‘Interaction of CO2 and light availability on photophysiology of tropical coccolithophorids (Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Ochosphaera sp.)’

Effects of global environmental change on microalgal photosynthesis, growth and their distribution

Global climate change (GCC) constitutes a complex challenge posing a serious threat to biodiversity and ecosystems in the next decades. There are several recent studies dealing with the potential effect of increased temperature, decrease of pH or shifts in salinity, as well as cascading events of GCC and their impact on human-environment systems. Microalgae as primary producers are a sensitive compartment of the marine ecosystems to all those changes. However, the potential consequences of these changes for marine microalgae have received relatively little attention and they are still not well understood. Thus, there is an urgent need to explore and understand the effects generated by multiple climatic changes on marine microalgae growth and biodiversity. Therefore, this review aimed to compare and contrast mechanisms that marine microalgae exhibit to directly respond to harsh conditions associated with GCC and the potential consequences of those changes in marine microalgal populations. Literature shows that microalgae responses to environmental stressors such as temperature were affected differently. A stress caused by salinity might slow down cell division, reduces size, ceases motility, and triggers palmelloid formation in microalgae community, but some of these changes are strongly species-specific. UV irradiance can potentially lead to an oxidative stress in microalgae, promoting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or induce direct physical damage on microalgae, then inhibiting the growth of microalgae. Moreover, pH could impact many groups of microalgae being more tolerant of certain pH shifts, while others were sensitive to changes of just small units (such as coccolithophorids) and subsequently affect the species at a higher trophic level, but also total vertical carbon transport in oceans. Overall, this review highlights the importance of examining effects of multiple stressors, considering multiple responses to understand the complexity behind stressor interactions.

Continue reading ‘Effects of global environmental change on microalgal photosynthesis, growth and their distribution’

Charge-dependent negative effects of polystyrene nanoplastics on Oryzias melastigma under ocean acidification conditions

Graphical abstract.


  • PS-NH2 exhibited more aggregation than PS-COOH in acidified seawater.
  • Ocean acidification reversed toxicity of positively and negatively charged NPs.
  • Ocean acidification reversed the internalization of PS-NH2 and PS-COOH.
  • PS-NPs at environmental level could transfer from embryos to larvae.


Marine nanoplastics (NPs) have attracted increasing global attentions because of their detrimental effects on marine environments. A co-existing major environmental concern is ocean acidification (OA). However, the effects of differentially charged NPs on marine organisms under OA conditions are poorly understood. We therefore investigated the effects of OA on the embryotoxicity of both positively and negatively charged polystyrene (PS) NPs to marine medaka (Oryzias melastigma). Positively charged PS-NH2 exhibited slighter aggregation under normal conditions and more aggregation under OA conditions than negatively charged PS-COOH. According to the integrated biomarker approach, OA reversed the toxicity of positively and negatively charged NPs towards embryos. Importantly, at environmental relevant concentrations, both types of PS-NPs could enter the embryos through chorionic pores and then transfer to the larvae. OA reversed the internalization of PS-NH2 and PS-COOH in O. melastigma. Overall, the reversed toxicity of PS-NH2 and PS-COOH associated with OA could be caused by the reversed bioavailability of NPs to O. melastigma, which was attributed to altered aggregation of the NPs in acidified seawater. This finding demonstrates the charge-dependent toxicity of NPs to marine fish and provides new insights into the potential hazard of NPs to marine environments under OA conditions that could be encountered in the near future.

Continue reading ‘Charge-dependent negative effects of polystyrene nanoplastics on Oryzias melastigma under ocean acidification conditions’

Impact of ultraviolet radiation nearly overrides the effects of elevated pCO2 on a prominent nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium

Although the marine N2-fixers Trichodesmium spp. are affected by increasing pCO2 and by ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in their habitats, little is known on their potential responses to future ocean acidification in the presence of UVR. We grew Trichodesmium at two pCO2 levels (410 and 1000 μatm) under natural sunlight, documented the filament length, growth, and chlorophyll content after its acclimation to the pCO2 treatments, and measured its carbon and N2 fixation rates under different solar radiation treatments with or without UVR. We showed that the elevated pCO2 did not significantly alter the diazotroph’s growth, filament length, or pigment content, and its photosynthetic rate was only affected by solar radiation treatments rather than the pCO2 levels. The presence of UV-A and UV-B inhibited photosynthesis by 10–22% and 17–21%, respectively. Inhibition of N2 fixation by UV-B was proportional to its intensity, whereas UV-A stimulated N2 fixation at low, but inhibited it at high, intensities. Elevated pCO2 only stimulated N2 fixation under moderate levels of solar radiation. The simulated depth profile of N2 fixation in the water column showed that UV-induced inhibition dominated the combined effects of elevated pCO2 and UVR at 0–30 m depth and the combination of these factors enhanced N2 fixation at 30–60 m depth, but this effect diminished in deeper water. Our results suggest that Trichodesmium could be influenced more by UVR than by pCO2 and their combined action result in negative effects on N2 fixation under high solar radiation, but positive effects under low to moderate solar radiation.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ultraviolet radiation nearly overrides the effects of elevated pCO2 on a prominent nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium’

Natural photosynthetic microboring communities produce alkalinity in seawater whereas aragonite saturation state rises up to five

Bioerosion, resulting from microbioerosion or biogenic dissolution, macrobioerosion and grazing, is one the main processes involved in reef carbonate budget and functioning. On healthy reefs, most of the produced carbonates are preserved and accumulate. But in the context of global change, reefs are increasingly degraded as environmental factors such as ocean warming and acidification affect negatively reef accretion and positively bioerosion processes. The recent 2019 SROCC report suggests that if CO2 emissions in the atmosphere are not drastically reduced rapidly, 70%–99% of coral reefs will disappear by 2,100. However, to improve projections of coral reef evolution, it is important to better understand dynamics of bioerosion processes. Among those processes, it was shown recently that bioeroding microflora which actively colonize and dissolve experimental coral blocks, release significant amount of alkalinity in seawater both by day and at night under controlled conditions. It was also shown that this alkalinity production is enhanced under ocean acidification conditions (saturation state of aragonite comprised between 2 and 3.5) suggesting that reef carbonate accumulation will be even more limited in the future. To better understand the conditions of production of alkalinity in seawater by boring microflora and its possible consequences on reef resilience, we conducted a series of experiments with natural rubble maintained under natural or artificial light, and various saturation states of aragonite. We show here that biogenic dissolution of natural reef rubble colonized by microboring communities dominated by the chlorophyte Ostreobium sp., and thus the production of alkalinity in seawater, can occur under a large range of saturation states of aragonite, from 2 to 6.4 under daylight and that this production is directly correlated to the photosynthetic activity of microboring communities. We then discuss the possible implications of such paradoxical activities on reef resilience.

Continue reading ‘Natural photosynthetic microboring communities produce alkalinity in seawater whereas aragonite saturation state rises up to five’

Effects of seawater acidification and solar ultraviolet radiation on photosynthetic performances and biochemical compositions of Rhodosorus sp. SCSIO-45730

Ocean acidification (OA) caused by rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) resulting from ozone depletion may affect marine organisms, but little is known regarding how unicellular Rhodosorus sp. SCSIO-45730, an excellent species resource containing various biological-active compounds, responds to OA and UVR. Therefore, we conducted a factorial coupling experiment to unravel the combined effects of OA and UVR on the growth, photosynthetic performances, biochemical compositions and enzyme activities of Rhodosorus sp. SCSIO-45730, which were exposed to two levels of CO2 (LC, 400 μatm, current CO2 level; HC, 1000 μatm, future CO2 level) and three levels of UVR (photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), PAR plus UVA, PAR plus UVB) treatments in all combinations, respectively. Compared to LC treatment, HC stimulated the relative growth rate (RGR) due to higher optimum and effective quantum yields, photosynthetic efficiency, maximum electron transport rates and photosynthetic pigments contents regardless of UVR. However, the presence of UVA had no significant effect but UVB markedly reduced the RGR. Additionally, higher carbohydrate content and lower protein and lipid contents were observed when Rhodosorus sp. SCSIO-45730 was cultured under HC due to the ample HCO−3HCO3− applications and active stimulation of metabolic enzymes of carbonic anhydrase and nitrate reductase, thus resulting in higher TC/TN. OA also triggered the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and the increase of ROS coincided approximately with superoxide dismutase and catalase activities, as well as phenols contents. However, UVR induced photochemical inhibition and damaged macromolecules, making algal cells need more energy for self-protection. Generally, these results revealed that OA counteracted UVR-related inhibition on Rhodosorus sp. SCSIO-45730, adding our understanding of the red algae responding to future global climate changes.

Continue reading ‘Effects of seawater acidification and solar ultraviolet radiation on photosynthetic performances and biochemical compositions of Rhodosorus sp. SCSIO-45730’

Responses of corals and coral reef ecosystems to ocean acidification under variable temperature and light

Coral reefs are under increasing pressure from ocean acidification. However, much of our understanding is based on single-species aquarium experiments made in isolation from realistic environmental parameters (e.g. light, water flow, food supply) and other co occurring stressors (e.g. increasing sea surface temperatures, reduced water clarity due to terrestrial runoff). In my PhD project I aimed to understand how ocean acidification affects the ecophysiology of reef corals and reef communities in natural settings, and how effects may differ with concurrent exposure to variable temperature and light. I used a combination of experimental and observational studies at unique field sites with naturally high levels of CO2 (CO2 seep sites), and multi-factor experiments in the aquarium facilities of The Australian Institute of Marine Science’s National Sea Simulator to address these questions.

In chapter 2, I investigated if corals can acclimate to ocean acidification by switching their photosymbionts to types that may be able to utilise the more abundant CO2 in photosynthesis. I used molecular techniques to investigate the dominant photosymbiont types in six species of coral from the field and found them to be highly conserved within species between CO2 seep and control sites. In chapter 3, I used a combination of field surveys and a multifactor laboratory experiment to investigate if elevated CO2 increased the severity of coral thermal bleaching. Field surveys during a bleaching event at the CO2 seeps, as well as the experimental study, both showed that corals were not significantly more susceptible to thermal stress under high CO2. In chapter 4, I used a multifactor laboratory experiment to investigate if reduced or variable daily light availability affected the responses of corals to high CO2. Here I found that reductions in light levels, regardless of the variability in daily light integrals, can reduce coral growth rates more than high CO2. In chapter 5, I followed the development of early successional coral reef benthic communities on settlement tiles along a gradient of CO2 exposure at the seep sites, and further measured rates of community metabolism. Here high CO2 strongly influenced the development of communities, shifting them away from a dominance of calcifying taxa under present day conditions to a range of non-calcifying algae as CO2 levels increased. These high CO2 communities progressively recorded lower rates of calcification and higher rates of hotosynthesis at high CO2.

Results from this thesis show that the considerable changes to the CO2 seep benthic communities are likely due to secondary ecological effects, rather than the physiological effects on corals alone. Moreover, the negative effects of cooccurring stressors on corals and coral reefs will also be substantial. Hence there is an immediate need to reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions and improve the management of local stressors to prevent further declines to the health and functioning of coral reef ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Responses of corals and coral reef ecosystems to ocean acidification under variable temperature and light’

O2 and CO2 responses of the synaptic period to under-ice phytoplankton bloom in the eutrophic Razdolnaya River estuary of Amur Bay, the Sea of Japan

Hydrological conditions are an important factor for aquatic ecosystems. Their contribution to stimulating phytoplankton bloom in eutrophic estuaries is not quite clear. We present the results of an outbreak of a phytoplankton bloom event observed in the eutrophic Razdolnaya R. estuary in 2022 from January 22 to February 23, when the estuary was covered by ice. The bloom spreads over 21 km from the river mouth bar to upstream in the near-bottom layer below the halocline. The Chl-a concentration in the bloom area increased from 15 to 100 μg/L, and the dissolved oxygen concentration from 350 to 567 μmol/kg at a rate of 11 μmol/(kg day) over the study period, while the CO2 partial pressure was reduced to 108 µatm in the most oxygen-supersaturated waters. The Thalassiosira nordenskioeldii Cleve sea diatom was the dominant phytoplankton species in the bloom area. The opposite trend was observed near the boundary of the saline water wedge penetration over 29 km from the river mouth bar to upstream where the dissolved oxygen concentration decreased from 140 to 53 μmol/kg over a month, and partial pressure of CO2 reached 4454 μatm. We also present the results obtained in February 2016 before and after a snowfall, when the ability of PAR to penetrate through the ice was impeded by a layer of snow. After the snowfall, photosynthesis in the under-ice water stopped and the oxygen concentration decreased to almost zero due to the microbiological destruction of the phytoplankton biomass. As such, the main effect of phytoplankton bloom is the formation of superoxia/hypoxia (depending on the light conditions), during the period of maximum ice thickness and minimum river discharge. Thus, this study demonstrates that the eutrophication in the future could lead to unstable ecosystems and large synoptic variations of dissolved oxygen and CO2 partial pressure of the estuaries.

Continue reading ‘O2 and CO2 responses of the synaptic period to under-ice phytoplankton bloom in the eutrophic Razdolnaya River estuary of Amur Bay, the Sea of Japan’

A story of resilience: Arctic diatom Chaetoceros gelidus exhibited high physiological plasticity to changing CO2 and light levels

Arctic phytoplankton are experiencing multifaceted stresses due to climate warming, ocean acidification, retreating sea ice, and associated changes in light availability, and that may have large ecological consequences. Multiple stressor studies on Arctic phytoplankton, particularly on the bloom-forming species, may help understand their fitness in response to future climate change, however, such studies are scarce. In the present study, a laboratory experiment was conducted on the bloom-forming Arctic diatom Chaetoceros gelidus (earlier C. socialis) under variable CO2 (240 and 900 µatm) and light (50 and 100 µmol photons m-2 s-1) levels. The growth response was documented using the pre-acclimatized culture at 2°C in a closed batch system over 12 days until the dissolved inorganic nitrogen was depleted. Particulate organic carbon and nitrogen (POC and PON), pigments, cell density, and the maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) were measured on day 4 (D4), 6 (D6), 10 (D10), and 12 (D12). The overall growth response suggested that C. gelidus maintained a steady-state carboxylation rate with subsequent conversion to macromolecules as reflected in the per-cell POC contents under variable CO2 and light levels. A substantial amount of POC buildup at the low CO2 level (comparable to the high CO2 treatment) indicated the possibility of existing carbon dioxide concentration mechanisms (CCMs) that needs further investigation. Pigment signatures revealed a high level of adaptability to variable irradiance in this species without any major CO2 effect. PON contents per cell increased initially but decreased irrespective of CO2 levels when nitrogen was limited (D6 onward) possibly to recycle intracellular nitrogen resources resulting in enhanced C: N ratios. On D12 the decreased dissolved organic nitrogen levels could be attributed to consumption under nitrogen starvation. Such physiological plasticity could make C. gelidus “ecologically resilient” in the future Arctic.

Continue reading ‘A story of resilience: Arctic diatom Chaetoceros gelidus exhibited high physiological plasticity to changing CO2 and light levels’

Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model

Atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations are rising at an unprecedented rate. Laboratory studies indicate a positive effect of rising CO2 on phytoplankton growth until an optimum is reached, after which the negative impact of accompanying acidification dominates. Here, we implemented carbonate system sensitivities of phytoplankton growth into our global biogeochemical model FESOM-REcoM and accounted explicitly for coccolithophores as the group most sensitive to CO2. In idealized simulations in which solely the atmospheric CO2 mixing ratio was modified, changes in competitive fitness and biomass are not only caused by the direct effects of CO2, but also by indirect effects via nutrient and light limitation as well as grazing. These cascading effects can both amplify or dampen phytoplankton responses to changing ocean pCO2 levels. For example, coccolithophore growth is negatively affected both directly by future pCO2 and indirectly by changes in light limitation, but these effects are compensated by a weakened nutrient limitation resulting from the decrease in small-phytoplankton biomass. In the Southern Ocean, future pCO2 decreases small-phytoplankton biomass and hereby the preferred prey of zooplankton, which reduces the grazing pressure on diatoms and allows them to proliferate more strongly. In simulations that encompass CO2-driven warming and acidification, our model reveals that recent observed changes in North Atlantic coccolithophore biomass are driven primarily by warming and not by CO2. Our results highlight that CO2 can change the effects of other environmental drivers on phytoplankton growth, and that cascading effects may play an important role in projections of future net primary production.

Continue reading ‘Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model’

Impact of climate change on Arctic macroalgal communities

The Arctic region faces a warming rate that is more than twice the global average. Seaice loss, increase in precipitation and freshwater discharge, changes in underwater light, and amplification of ocean acidification modify benthic habitats and the communities they host. Here we synthesize existing information on the impacts of climate change on the macroalgal communities of Arctic coasts. We review the shortand long-term changes in environmental characteristics of shallow hard-bottomed Arctic coasts, the floristics of Arctic macroalgae (description, distribution, life-cycle, adaptations), the responses of their biological and ecological processes to climate change, the resulting winning and losing species, and the effects on ecosystem functioning. The focus of this review is on fucoid species, kelps, and coralline algae which are key ecosystem engineers in hard-bottom shallow areas of the Arctic, providing food, substrate, shelter, and nursery ground for many species. Changes in seasonality, benthic functional diversity, food-web structure, and carbon cycle are already occurring and are reshaping Arctic benthic ecosystems. Shallow communities are projected to shift from invertebrate-to algal-dominated communities. Fucoid and several kelp species are expected to largely spread and dominate the area with possible extinctions of native species. A considerable amount of functional diversity could be lost impacting the processing of land-derived nutrients and organic matter and significantly altering trophic structure and energy flow up to the apex consumers. However, many factors are not well understood yet, making it difficult to appreciate the current situation and predict the future coastal Arctic ecosystem. Efforts must be made to improve knowledge in key regions with proper seasonal coverage, taking into account interactions between stressors and across species.

Continue reading ‘Impact of climate change on Arctic macroalgal communities’

Elevated CO2 modulates the physiological responses of Thalassiosira pseudonana to ultraviolet radiation


  • High CO2 exacerbated the UVR-induced inhibition on PSII activity.
  • UVR stimulated the removal rates of both PsbA and PsbD.
  • The removal of PsbD declined by high CO2 under the exposure of UVR.
  • High CO2 reversed the UVR-induced YNPQ to YNo.


Diatoms account for a large proportion of marine primary productivity, they tend to be the predominant species in the phytoplankton communities in the surface ocean with frequent and large light fluctuations. To understand the impacts of increased CO2 on diatoms’ capacity in exploitation of variable solar radiation, we cultured a model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana with 400 or 1000ppmv CO2 and exposed it to high photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) alone or PAR plus ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to examine its physiological performances. The results showed that the maximum photochemical efficiency (Fv/fm) was significantly reduced by high PAR and PAR + UVR in T. pseudonana, UVR-induced inhibition on PSII activity was exacerbated by high CO2. PSII activity drops coincide approximately with PsbA content in the cells exposed to high PAR or PAR + UVR, which was pronounced at high CO2. The removal of PsbD in T. pseudonana cells declined under high CO2 during UVR exposure, limiting the repair capacity of PSII. In addition, high CO2 reversed the induction of energy-dependent form of NPQ by UVR to the increase of Y(No), indicating the severe damage of the photoprotective reactions. Our findings suggest that the adverse impacts of UVR on PSII function of T. pseudonana were aggravated by the elevated CO2 through modulating its capacity in repair and protection, which thereby would influence its abundance and competitiveness in phytoplankton communities.

Continue reading ‘Elevated CO2 modulates the physiological responses of Thalassiosira pseudonana to ultraviolet radiation’

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: