Posts Tagged 'light'

Reduced spore germination explains sensitivity of reef-building algae to climate change stressors

Reduced seawater pH and changes in carbonate chemistry associated with ocean acidification (OA) decrease the recruitment of crustose coralline algae (CCAcf.), an important coral-reef builder. However, it is unclear whether the observed decline in recruitment is driven by impairment of spore germination, or post-settlement processes (e.g. space competition). To address this, we conducted an experiment using a dominant CCA, Porolithon cf. onkodes to test the independent and combined effects of OA, warming, and irradiance on its germination success and early development. Elevated CO2 negatively affected several processes of spore germination, including formation of the germination disc, initial growth, and germling survival. The magnitude of these effects varied depending on the levels of temperature and irradiance. For example, the combination of high CO2 and high temperature reduced formation of the germination disc, but this effect was independent of irradiance levels, while spore abnormalities increased under high CO2 and high temperature particularly in combination with low irradiance intensity. This study demonstrates that spore germination of CCA is impacted by the independent and interactive effects of OA, increasing seawater temperature and irradiance intensity. For the first time, this provides a mechanism for how the sensitivity of critical early life history processes to global change may drive declines of adult populations of key marine calcifiers.

Continue reading ‘Reduced spore germination explains sensitivity of reef-building algae to climate change stressors’

Global warming interacts with ocean acidification to alter PSII function and protection in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii


  • Global warming increases the photoinactivation rate.
  • Ocean acidification alleviates the effect of global warming on photoinactivation.
  • Global warming does not affect PsbA removal but ocean acidification enhances it.
  • Ocean acidification induces high nonphotochemical quenching.
  • Global warming increases antioxidant systems, but ocean acidification does not


Diatoms, as important contributors to aquatic primary production, are critical to the global carbon cycle. They tend to dominate phytoplankton communities experiencing rapid changes of underwater light. However, little is known regarding how climate change impacts diatoms’ capacity in coping with variable light environments. Here we grew a globally abundant diatom T. weissflogii, under two levels of temperature (18, 24 °C) and pCO2 (400, 1000 μatm), and then treated it with a light challenge to understand the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on its exploitation of variable light environments. The higher temperature increased the photoinactivation rate at 400 μatm pCO2 and the higher pCO2 alleviated the negative effect of the higher temperature on PSII photoinactivation. Temperature did not affect the PsbA removal rate, but higher pCO2 stimulated PsbA removal. Photoinactivation outran repair, leading to decreased maximum photochemical yield in PSII. The higher pCO2 induced high sustained phase of nonphotochemical quenching when cells were less photoinhibited. The high light exposure induced the activity of both superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) and the higher temperature stimulated them further, with insignificant effect of pCO2. Our findings suggest that ocean warming, ocean acidification and high light exposure would interact on PSII function and protection, and combination of these three environmental factors would lead to a reduced PSII activity in T. weissflogii. This study provides helpful insight into how climate change variables combined with local stressor impact diatoms’ photosynthetic physiology.

Continue reading ‘Global warming interacts with ocean acidification to alter PSII function and protection in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii’

Elevated pCO2 affects tissue biomass composition, but not calcification, in a reef coral under two light regimes

Ocean acidification (OA) is predicted to reduce reef coral calcification rates and threaten the long-term growth of coral reefs under climate change. Reduced coral growth at elevated pCO2 may be buffered by sufficiently high irradiances; however, the interactive effects of OA and irradiance on other fundamental aspects of coral physiology, such as the composition and energetics of coral biomass, remain largely unexplored. This study tested the effects of two light treatments (7.5 versus 15.7 mol photons m−2 d−1) at ambient or elevated pCO2 (435 versus 957 µatm) on calcification, photopigment and symbiont densities, biomass reserves (lipids, carbohydrates, proteins), and biomass energy content (kJ) of the reef coral Pocillopora acuta from Kāne‘ohe Bay, Hawai‘i. While pCO2 and light had no effect on either area- or biomass-normalized calcification, tissue lipids gdw−1 and kJ gdw−1 were reduced 15% and 14% at high pCO2, and carbohydrate content increased 15% under high light. The combination of high light and high pCO2 reduced protein biomass (per unit area) by approximately 20%. Thus, under ecologically relevant irradiances, P. acuta in Kāne‘ohe Bay does not exhibit OA-driven reductions in calcification reported for other corals; however, reductions in tissue lipids, energy content and protein biomass suggest OA induced an energetic deficit and compensatory catabolism of tissue biomass. The null effects of OA on calcification at two irradiances support a growing body of work concluding some reef corals may be able to employ compensatory physiological mechanisms that maintain present-day levels of calcification under OA. However, negative effects of OA on P. acuta biomass composition and energy content may impact the long-term performance and scope for growth of this species in a high pCO2 world.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 affects tissue biomass composition, but not calcification, in a reef coral under two light regimes’

Effects of the interaction of ocean acidification, solar radiation, and warming on biogenic dimethylated sulfur compounds cycling in the Changjiang River Estuary

Ocean acidification (OA) affects marine primary productivity and community structure, and therefore may influence the biogeochemical cycles of volatile biogenic dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and its precursor dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and photochemical oxidation product dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). A 23-day incubation experiment on board was conducted to investigate the short-term response of biogenic sulfur compounds production and cycling to OA in the Changjiang River Estuary and further understand its effects on biogenic sulfur compounds. Result showed that phytoplankton abundance and species presented remarkable differences under three different pH levels in the late stage of the experiment. A significant reduction in chlorophyll a (Chl-a), DMS, particulate DMSP (DMSPp), and dissolved DMSO (DMSOd) concentrations was identified under high CO2 levels. Moreover, minimal change was observed in the production of dissolved DMSP (DMSPd) and particulate DMSO (DMSOp) among treatments. The ratios of DMS, total DMSP (DMSPt), and total DMSO (DMSOt) to Chl-a were also not affected by a change in pH. In addition, DMS and DMSOd were highly related to mean bacterial abundance under three pH levels. Additional incubation experiments on light and temperature showed that the influence of pH on productions of dimethylated sulfur compounds also depended on solar radiation and temperature conditions. DMS photodegradation rate increased with decreasing pH under full-spectrum natural light and UVB light. Thus, OA may lead to decreasing DMS concentrations in the surface seawater. Light and temperature conditions also play an important role in the production and cycling of biogenic sulfur compounds.

Continue reading ‘Effects of the interaction of ocean acidification, solar radiation, and warming on biogenic dimethylated sulfur compounds cycling in the Changjiang River Estuary’

Effects of ocean acidification and UV radiation on marine photosynthetic carbon fixation

The oceans absorb anthropogenically released CO2 at a rate of more than one million tons per hour, which causes a pH decrease of seawater and results in ocean acidification (OA). The effect of OA and absorption of CO2 via the biological carbon pump driven by marine photosynthesis has drawn increasing attentions. As a consequence, there are numerous studies on influences of OA on primary producers, and the effects on photosynthetic carbon fixation are still under debate. OA can promote the growth of diatoms at low PAR irradiances and inhibit it at high PAR. Besides, OA may influence metabolic pathways of phytoplankton, upregulating β-oxidation, and the tricarboxylic acid cycle, resulting in increased accumulation of toxic phenolic compounds. In parallel, phytoplankton cells in the upper mixed layer are affected by intense PAR and UV radiation (UVR). The calcareous layers of calcified algae, which have been shown to shield the organisms from UVR, are thinned due to OA, exposing the cells to increased UVR and further inhibiting the calcification. Therefore, effects of OA and UV on marine photosynthetic carbon fixation could be compounded. While the photosynthetic carbon fixation is controlled by other environmental stressors in addition to OA and UV, such as nutrients limitation and warming, combined effects of OA and UV have been less considered. In this review, we synthesize and analyze recent advances on effects of OA and UV and their combined effects, implying that future studies should pay special attentions to ecological and physiological effects of OA in the presence of solar UV irradiance to reflect more realistic implications. The ecophysiological effects of OA and/or UV and their mechanisms in complex environments should be further explored.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification and UV radiation on marine photosynthetic carbon fixation’

Increased temperature and CO2 alleviate photoinhibition in Desmarestia anceps: from transcriptomics to carbon utilization

Ocean acidification and warming are affecting polar regions with particular intensity. Rocky shores of the Antarctic Peninsula are dominated by canopy-forming Desmarestiales. This study investigates the physiological and transcriptomic responses of the endemic macroalga Desmarestia anceps to a combination of different levels of temperature (2 and 7 °C), dissolved CO2 (380 and 1000 ppm), and irradiance (65 and 145 µmol photons m−2 s−1). Growth and photosynthesis increased at high CO2 conditions, and strongly decreased at 2 °C plus high irradiance, in comparison to the other treatments. Photoinhibition at 2 °C plus high irradiance was evidenced by the photochemical performance and intensive release of dissolved organic carbon. The highest number of differentially regulated transcripts was observed in thalli exposed to 2 °C plus high irradiance. Algal 13C isotopic discrimination values suggested an absence of down-regulation of carbon-concentrating mechanisms at high CO2. CO2 enrichment induced few transcriptomic changes. There was high and constitutive gene expression of many photochemical and inorganic carbon utilization components, which might be related to the strong adaptation of D. anceps to the Antarctic environment. These results suggest that increased temperature and CO2 will allow D. anceps to maintain its productivity while tolerating higher irradiances than at present conditions.

Continue reading ‘Increased temperature and CO2 alleviate photoinhibition in Desmarestia anceps: from transcriptomics to carbon utilization’

Effects of alkalinity and salinity at low and high light intensity on hydrogen isotope fractionation of long-chain alkenones produced by Emiliania huxleyi

Over the last decade, hydrogen isotope fractionation of long-chain alkenones have been shown to be a promising proxy for reconstructing paleo sea surface salinity due to a strong hydrogen isotope fractionation response to salinity across different environmental conditions. However, to date, the decoupling of the effects of alkalinity and salinity, parameters that co-vary in the surface ocean, on hydrogen isotope fractionation of alkenones has not been assessed. Furthermore, as the alkenone-producing haptophyte, Emiliania huxleyi, is known to grow in large blooms under high light intensities, the effect of salinity on hydrogen isotope fractionation under these high irradiances is important to constrain before using hydrogen isotope fractionation to reconstruct paleosalinity. Batch cultures of the marine haptophyte E. huxleyi strain CCMP 1516 were grown to investigate the hydrogen isotope fractionation response to salinity at high light intensity and independently assess the effects of salinity and alkalinity. Our results suggest that alkalinity does not significantly influence hydrogen isotope fractionation of alkenones, but salinity does have a strong effect. Additionally, no significant difference was observed between the fractionation responses to salinity recorded in alkenones grown under both high and low light conditions. Comparison with previous studies suggests that the fractionation response to salinity in culture is similar under different environmental conditions, strengthening the applicability of hydrogen isotope fractionation as a paleosalinity proxy.

Continue reading ‘Effects of alkalinity and salinity at low and high light intensity on hydrogen isotope fractionation of long-chain alkenones produced by Emiliania huxleyi’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book