Posts Tagged 'mesocosms'

Elevated CO2 affects kelp nutrient quality: a case study of Saccharina japonica from CO2 enriched coastal mesocosm systems

Kelps provide critical services for coastal food chains and ecosystem, and they are important food source for some segments of human population. Despite their ecological importance, little is known about long‐term impacts of elevated CO2 (eCO2) on nutrient metabolites in kelps and the underlying regulation mechanisms. In this study, the kelp Saccharina japonica was cultured in CO2 enriched coastal mesocosm systems for up to 3 months. We found that though eCO2 significantly increased the growth rate, carbon concentrations and C/N ratio of S. japonica, it had no effect on total nitrogen and protein contents at the end of cultivation period. Meanwhile it decreased the lipid, magnesium, sodium, calcium contents and changed the amino acid and fatty acid composition. Combining the genome‐wide transcriptomic and metabolic evidence, we obtained a systems‐level understanding of metabolic response of S. japonica to eCO2. The unique ornithine‐urea cycle (OUC) and aspartate‐argininosuccinate shunt (AAS), coupled with TCA cycle balanced the carbon and nitrogen metabolism under eCO2 by providing carbon skeleton for amino acid synthesis and reduced power for nitrogen assimilation. This research provides a major advance in the understanding of kelp nutrient metabolic mechanism in the context of global climate change, and such CO2‐induced shifts in nutritional value may induce changes in the structure and stability of marine trophic webs and affect the quality of human nutrition resources.

Continue reading ‘Elevated CO2 affects kelp nutrient quality: a case study of Saccharina japonica from CO2 enriched coastal mesocosm systems’

Acidification decreases microbial community diversity in the Salish Sea, a region with naturally high pCO2

Most literature exploring the biological effects of ocean acidification (OA) has focused on macroscopic organisms and far less is known about how marine microbial communities will respond. Studies of OA and microbial community composition and diversity have examined communities from a limited number of ocean regions where the ambient pH is near or above the global average. At San Juan Island (Salish Sea), a region that experiences naturally low pH (average = 7.8), the picoplankton (cell diameter is 0.2–2μm) community was predicted to show no response to experimental acidification in a three-week mesocosm experiment. Filtered seawater mesocosms were maintained via semicontinuous culturing. Three control mesocosms were maintained at pH 8.05 and three acidified mesocosms were maintained at pH 7.60. Total bacteria was quantified daily with a flow cytometer. Microbial communities were sampled every two days via filtration followed by DNA extraction, 16S rRNA amplification, and MiSeq sequencing. There was no significant difference in total bacteria between pH treatments throughout the experiment. Acidification significantly reduced Shannon’s diversity over time. During the final week of the experiment, acidification resulted in a significant decrease in Shannon’s diversity, Faith’s phylogenetic distance, and Pielous’s Evenness. ANCOM results revealed four bacterial ASVs (amplicon sequence variants), in families Flavobaceriaceae and Hyphomonadaceae that significantly decreased in relative frequency under acidification and two bacterial ASVs, in families Flavobacteriaceae and Alteromonadaceae, that significantly increased under acidification. This is the first OA study on the microbial community of the Salish Sea, a nutrient rich, low pH region, and the first of its kind to report a decrease in both picoplankton richness and evenness with acidification. These findings demonstrate that marine microbial communities that naturally experience acidic conditions are still sensitive to acidification.

Continue reading ‘Acidification decreases microbial community diversity in the Salish Sea, a region with naturally high pCO2’

A review of mesocosm experiments on heavy metals in marine environment and related issues of emerging concerns

Mesocosms are real-world environmental science tools for bridging the gap between laboratory-scale experiments and actual habitat studies on ecosystem complexities. These experiments are increasingly being applied in understanding the complex impacts of heavy metals, ocean acidification, global warming, and oil spills. The insights of the present review indicate how metals and metal-bound activities impact on various aspects of ecological complexities like prey predator cues, growth, embryonic development, and reproduction. Plankton and benthos are used more often over fish and microbes owing to their smaller size, faster reproduction, amenability, and repeatability during mesocosm experiments. The results of ocean acidification reveal calcification of plankton, corals, alteration of pelagic structures, and plankton blooms. The subtle effect of oil spills is amplified on sediment microorganisms, primary producers, and crustaceans. An overview of the mesocosm designs over the years indicates that gradual changes have evolved in the type, size, design, composition, parameters, methodology employed, and the outputs obtained. Most of the pelagic and benthic mesocosm designs involve consideration of interactions within the water columns, between water and sediments, trophic levels, and nutrient rivalry. Mesocosm structures are built considering physical processes (tidal currents, turbulence, inner cycling of nutrients, thermal stratification, and mixing), biological complexities (population, community, and ecosystem) using appropriate filling containers, and sampling facilities that employ inert materials. The principle of design is easy transportation, mooring, deployment, and free floating structures besides addressing the unique ecosystem-based science problems. The evolution of the mesocosm tools helps in understanding further advancement of techniques and their applications in marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘A review of mesocosm experiments on heavy metals in marine environment and related issues of emerging concerns’

Simulated future conditions of ocean warming and acidification disrupt the microbiome of the calcifying foraminifera Marginopora vertebralis across life stages

Foraminifera host diverse microbial communities that can shift in response to changing environmental conditions. To characterize climate change impacts on the foraminifera microbiome across life stages, we exposed adult Marginopora vertebralis (Large Benthic Foraminifera) to pCO2 and temperature scenarios representing present day, 2050 and 2100 levels and raised juveniles under present day and 2050 conditions. While treatment condition had no significant effect on the seawater microbial communities, exposure to future scenarios significantly altered both adult and juvenile microbiomes. In adults, divergence between present day and 2050 or 2100 conditions was primarily driven by a reduced relative abundance of Oxyphotobacteria under elevated temperature and pCO2. In juveniles, the microbial shift predominantly resulted from changes in the proportion of Proteobacteria. Indicator species analysis identified numerous treatment‐specific indicator taxa, most of which were indicative of present day conditions. Oxyphotobacteria, previously reported as putative symbionts of foraminifera, were indicative of present day and 2050 conditions in adults, but of present day conditions only in juveniles. Overall, we show that the sensitivity of the M. vertebralis microbiome to climate change scenarios extends to both life stages and primarily correlates with declines in Oxyphotobacteria and shifts in Proteobacteria under elevated temperature and pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Simulated future conditions of ocean warming and acidification disrupt the microbiome of the calcifying foraminifera Marginopora vertebralis across life stages’

The effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth of a natural community of coastal phytoplankton

An in situ mesocosm experiment was performed to investigate the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming on the coastal phytoplankton standing stock and species composition of a eutrophic coastal area in the temperate-subtropical region. Experimental treatments of natural seawater included three CO2 and two temperature conditions (present control: ~400 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature, acidification conditions: ~900 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature, and greenhouse conditions: ~900 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature +3 °C). We found that increased CO2 concentration benefited the growth of small autotrophic phytoplankton groups: picophytoplankton (PP), autotrophic nanoflagellates (ANF), and small chain-forming diatoms (DT). However, in the greenhouse conditions, ANF and DT abundances were lower compared with those in the acidification conditions. The proliferation of small autotrophic phytoplankton in future oceanic conditions (acidification and greenhouse) also increased the abundance of heterotrophic dinoflagellates (HDF). These responses suggest that a combination of acidification and warming will not only increase the small autotrophic phytoplankton standing stock but, also, lead to a shift in the diatom and dinoflagellate species composition, with potential biogeochemical element cycling feedback and an increased frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms.

Continue reading ‘The effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth of a natural community of coastal phytoplankton’

Changing carbon-to-nitrogen ratios of organic-matter export under ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) will affect marine biotas from the organism to the ecosystem level. Yet, the consequences for the biological carbon pump and thereby the oceanic sink for atmospheric CO2 are still unclear. Here we show that OA considerably alters the C/N ratio of organic-matter export (C/Nexport), a key factor determining efficiency of the biological pump. By synthesizing sediment-trap data from in situ mesocosm studies in different marine biomes, we find distinct but highly variable impacts of OA on C/Nexport, reaching up to a 20% increase/decrease under partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) conditions projected for 2100. These changes are driven by pCO2 effects on a variety of plankton taxa and corresponding shifts in food-web structure. Notably, our findings suggest a pivotal role of heterotrophic processes in controlling the response of C/Nexport to OA, thus contradicting the paradigm of primary producers as the principal driver of biogeochemical responses to ocean change.

Continue reading ‘Changing carbon-to-nitrogen ratios of organic-matter export under ocean acidification’

Combining mesocosms with models to unravel the effects of global warming and ocean acidification on temperate marine ecosystems

Ocean warming and species exploitation have already caused large-scale reorganization of biological communities across the world. Accurate projections of future biodiversity change require a comprehensive understanding of how entire communities respond to global change. We combined a time-dynamic integrated food web modelling approach (Ecosim) with a community-level mesocosm experiment to determine the independent and combined effects of ocean warming and acidification, and fisheries exploitation, on a temperate coastal ecosystem. The mesocosm enabled important physiological and behavioural responses to climate stressors to be projected for trophic levels ranging from primary producers to top predators, including sharks. We show that under current-day rates of exploitation, warming and ocean acidification will benefit most species in higher trophic levels (e.g. mammals, birds, demersal finfish) in their current climate ranges, with the exception of small pelagic fish, but these benefits will be reduced or lost when these physical stressors co-occur. We show that increases in exploitation will, in most instances, suppress any positive effects of human-driven climate change, causing individual species biomass to decrease at high-trophic levels. Species diversity at the trailing edges of species distributions is likely to decline in the face of ocean warming, acidification and exploitation. We showcase how multi-level mesocosm food web experiments can be used to directly inform dynamic food web models, enabling the ecological processes that drive the responses of marine ecosystems to scenarios of global change to be captured in model projections and their individual and combined effects to be teased apart. Our approach for blending theoretical and empirical results from mesocosm experiments with computational models will provide resource managers and conservation biologists with improved tools for forecasting biodiversity change and altered ecosystem processes due to climate change.

Continue reading ‘Combining mesocosms with models to unravel the effects of global warming and ocean acidification on temperate marine ecosystems’

Increased light availability enhances tolerance against ocean acidification stress in Halimeda opuntia

Although the adverse impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine calcifiers have been investigated substantially, the anti-stress abilities regulated by increased light availability are unclear. Herein, the interactive effects of three light levels combined with two pCO2 concentrations on the physiological acclimation of the calcifying macroalga Halimeda opuntia were investigated using a pCO2–light coupling experiment. The results indicate that OA exhibits an adverse role in influencing algal growth, calcification, photosynthesis and other physiological performances in H. opuntia. The relative growth rate in elevated pCO2 significantly declined by 13.14%–41.29%, while net calcification rates decreased by nearly three-fold under OA. Notably, increased light availability could enhance stress resistance by the accumulation of soluble organic molecules, especially soluble carbohydrate, soluble protein and free amino acids, and in combination with metabolic enzyme-driven activities alleviated OA stress. Carotenoid content in low light conditions accumulated remarkably and rapid light curves for relative electron transport rate was significantly enhanced by increasing light intensities, indicating that this new organization of the photosynthetic machinery in H. opuntia accommodated light variations and elevated pCO2 conditions. Taken together, the results describe stress resistance by the enhancement of metabolic performance in marine calcifiers to mitigate OA stress.

Continue reading ‘Increased light availability enhances tolerance against ocean acidification stress in Halimeda opuntia’

Cross‐generational effects of climate change on the microbiome of a photosynthetic sponge

Coral reefs are facing increasing pressure from rising seawater temperatures and ocean acidification. Sponges have been proposed as possible winners in the face of climate change; however, little is known about the mechanisms underpinning their predicted tolerance. Here we assessed whether microbiome‐mediated cross‐generational acclimatization could enable the photosynthetic sponge Carteriospongia foliascens to survive under future climate scenarios. To achieve this, we first established the potential for vertical (cross‐generational) transmission of symbionts. Sixty‐four amplicon sequence variants accounting for >90% of the total C. foliascens microbial community were present across adult, larval and juvenile life stages, showing that a large proportion of the microbiome is vertically acquired and maintained. When C. foliascens were exposed to climate scenarios projected for 2050 and 2100, the host remained visibly unaffected (i.e. no necrosis/bleaching) and the overall microbiome was not significantly different amongst treatments in adult tissue, the respective larvae or recruits transplanted amongst climate treatments. However, indicator species analysis revealed that parental exposure to future climate scenarios altered the presence and abundance of a small suite of microbial taxa in the recruits, thereby revealing the potential for microbiome‐mediated cross‐generational acclimatization through both symbiont shuffling and symbiont switching within a vertically acquired microbiome.

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Impacts of CO2 perturbation on the ecology and biogeochemistry of plankton communities during a simulated upwelling event: a mesocosm experiment in oligotrophic subtropical waters

The ocean is a major sink for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), taking up one third of fossil fuel CO2 annually. This causes pronounced shifts in marine carbonate chemistry, including decreasing seawater pH and carbonate saturation states. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that these changes – summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA) – can significantly affect marine life, with potential consequences for food webs and biogeochemical cycles. Our current understanding of OA effects is largely based on laboratory experiments under rather artificial environmental conditions and with cultures of single species, thereby neglecting ecological interactions. Studies on the response of natural communities are still relatively rare, with the few existing community-level studies mostly conducted in eutrophic environments.

To close this knowledge gap and better understand how natural communities and food webs in oligotrophic environments respond to ocean acidification, an in situ mesocosm experiment was conducted in the subtropical northeast Atlantic Ocean, off the island of Gran Canaria. To investigate how OA effects might differ between oligotrophic conditions and phases of high biological productivity, which regularly occur in response to upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water in the study region, a deep-water upwelling event was simulated in the mesocosms three weeks into the experiment.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of CO2 perturbation on the ecology and biogeochemistry of plankton communities during a simulated upwelling event: a mesocosm experiment in oligotrophic subtropical waters’


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