Posts Tagged 'metals'

Thalassiosira weissflogii grown in various Zn levels shows different ecophysiological responses to seawater acidification


  • Zn deficient encouraged cellular silicon and sinking rate under normal pCO2.
  • Higher pCO2 decreased cellular silicon and sinking rate of Zn-deficient T. weissflogii.
  • Higher pCO2 increased cellular silicon and sinking rate in Zn-replete T. weissflogii.
  • Silica and carbon cycle could be impacted by acidification and Zn levels.


The presence of zinc (Zn), a vital element for algal physiological functions, coupled with the silicification of diatoms implies that it plays an integral role in the carbon and silicon cycles of the sea. In this study, we examined the effects of different pCO2 and Zn levels on growth rate, elemental compositions and silicification by Thalassiosira weissflogii. The results showed that under normal pCO2 (400 μatm), cultures of T. weissflogii were depressed for growth rate and silica incorporation rate, but encouraged for cellular silicon content, Si/C, Si/N, and sinking rate when Zn deficient (0.3 pmol L−1). However, cellular silicon and sinking rate of Zn-deficient and Zn-replete (25 pmol L−1T. weissflogii were decreased and increased at higher pCO2 (800 μatm), respectively. Thus, acidification may affect diatoms significantly differently depending on the Zn levels of the ocean and then alter the biochemical cycling of carbon and silica.

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pCO2-driven seawater acidification affects aqueous-phase copper toxicity in juvenile flounder Paralichthys olivaceus: metal accumulation, antioxidant defenses and biodetoxification in livers

Graphical abstract.


  • SA and Cu interact during hepatic antioxidant defenses and biodetoxification.
  • Moderate SA helps alleviate Cu exposure-induced LPO, but extreme SA exacerbates it.
  • Thiols respond actively to cope with Cu toxicity in acidified seawater.
  • SOD, CAT, EROD and GST sensitively respond to SA and Cu coexposure.
  • Pearson’s correlation coefficient and PCA usefully integrate biomarker responses.


Ocean acidification potentially influences the biotoxicity of metals and the antioxidant defense systems of marine organisms. This study investigated how pCO2-driven seawater acidification (SA) affected aqueous-phase copper (Cu) toxicity in the juvenile flounder Paralichthys olivaceus from the perspective of hepatic oxidative stress and damage to better understand the mechanisms underlying the biological effects produced by the two stressors. Fish were exposed to aqueous-phase Cu at relevant ambient and polluted concentrations (0, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 200 μg L−1) at different pH levels (no SA: pH 8.10; moderate SA: pH 7.70, pCO2 ∼1353.89 μatm; extreme SA: pH 7.30, pCO2 ∼3471.27 μatm) for 28 days. A battery of biomarkers in the livers was examined to investigate their roles in antioxidant defense and biodetoxification in response to coexposure. Hepatic Cu accumulation (30.22–184.90 mg kg−1) was positively correlated with Cu concentrations. The biomarkers responded adaptively to different redox states following SA and Cu exposure. In unacidified seawater, increases in Cu concentrations significantly induced hepatic lipid peroxidation (LPO, by up to 27.03 %), although compensatory responses in antioxidant defenses and biodetoxification were activated. Moderate SA helped maintain hepatic redox homeostasis and alleviated LPO through different defense strategies, depending on Cu concentrations. Under extreme SA, antioxidant-based defenses were activated to cope with oxidative stress at ambient-low Cu concentrations but failed to defend against Cu toxicity at polluted Cu levels, and LPO (by up to 63.90 %) was significantly induced. Additionally, thiols (GSH and MT) responded actively to cope with Cu toxicity under SA. SOD, CAT, EROD, and GST were also sensitively involved in defending against hepatic oxidative stress during coexposure. These findings highlight the notable interactive effects of SA and Cu and provide a basis for understanding antioxidant-based defenses in marine fish confronting environmental challenges.

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Gadolinium ecotoxicity is enhanced in a warmer and acidified changing ocean as shown by the surf clam Spisula solida through a multibiomarker approach


  • Spisula solida accumulated Gd after just one day.
  • Climate change did not impact Gd accumulation and elimination.
  • Gd was not proficiently eliminated in 7 days.
  • Lipid peroxidation was greater in clams exposed to warming and Gd.
  • Gd showed enhanced ecotoxicity in climate change conditions.


Humans have exhaustively combusted fossil fuels, and released pollutants into the environment, at continuously faster rates resulting in global average temperature increase and seawater pH decrease. Climate change is forecasted to exacerbate the effects of pollutants such as the emergent rare earth elements. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess the combined effects of rising temperature (Δ = + 4 °C) and decreasing pH (Δ = − 0.4 pH units) on the bioaccumulation and elimination of gadolinium (Gd) in the bioindicator bivalve species Spisula solida (Surf clam). We exposed surf clams to 10 µg L−1 of GdCl3 for seven days, under warming, acidification, and their combination, followed by a depuration phase lasting for another 7 days and investigated the Gd bioaccumulation and oxidative stress-related responses after 1, 3 and 7 days of exposure and the elimination phase. Gadolinium accumulated after just one day with values reaching the highest after 7 days. Gadolinium was not eliminated after 7 days, and elimination is further hampered under climate change scenarios. Warming and acidification, and their interaction did not significantly impact Gd concentration. However, there was a significant interaction on clam’s biochemical response. The augmented total antioxidant capacity and lipid peroxidation values show that the significant impacts of Gd on the oxidative stress response are enhanced under warming while the increased superoxide dismutase and catalase values demonstrate the combined impact of Gd, warming & acidification. Ultimately, lipid damage was greater in clams exposed to warming & Gd, which emphasizes the enhanced toxic effects of Gd in a changing ocean.

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Environmental change impacts on shell formation in the muricid Nucella lapillus

Environmental change is a significant threat to marine ecosystems worldwide. Ocean acidification, global warming and long-term emissions of anthropogenic effluents are all negatively impacting aquatic life. Marine calcifying organisms, in particular, are expected to be severely affected by decreasing seawater pH, resulting in shell dissolution and retardations during the formation and repair of shells. Understanding the underlying biological and environmental factors driving species vulnerabilities to habitat alterations is thus crucial to our ability to faithfully predict impacts on marine ecosystems under an array of environmental change scenarios. So far, existing knowledge about organism responses mainly stems from short to medium term laboratory experiments of single species or over- simplified communities. Although these studies have provided important insights, results may not translate to organism responses in a complex natural system requiring a more holistic experimental approach. In this thesis, I investigated shell formation mechanisms and shape and elemental composition responses in the shell of the important intertidal predatory muricid Nucella lapillus both in situ and across heterogeneous environmental gradients. The aim was to identify potential coping mechanisms of N. lapillus to environmental change and provide a more coherent picture of shell formation responses along large ecological gradients in the spatial and temporal domain. To investigate shell formation mechanisms, I tested for the possibility of shell recycling as a function to reduce calcification costs during times of exceptional demand using a multi-treatment shell labelling experiment. Reports on calcification costs vary largely in the literature. Still, recent discoveries showed that costs might increase as a function of decreasing calcification substrate abundance, suggesting that shell formation becomes increasingly more costly under future environmental change scenarios. However, despite the anticipated costs, no evidence was found that would indicate the use of functional dissolution as a means to recycle shell material for a more cost-efficient shell formation in N. lapillus. To investigate shell formation responses, I combined morphometric and shell thickness analyses with novel statistical methods to identify natural shape and thickness response of N. lapillus to large scale variability in temperature, salinity, wind speed and the carbonate system across a wide geographic range (from Portugal to Iceland) and through time (over 130 years). I found that along geographical gradients, the state of the carbonate system and, more specifically, the substrate inhibitor ratio ([HCO3−][H+]−1) (SIR) was the main predictor for shape variations in N. lapillus. Populations in regions with a lower SIR tend to form narrower shells with a higher spire to body whorl ratio. In contrast, populations in regions with a higher SIR form wider shells with a much lower spire to body whorl ratio. The results suggest a widespread phenotypic response of N. lapillus to continuing ocean acidification could be expected, affecting its phenotypic response patterns to predator or wave exposure regimes with profound implications for North Atlantic rocky shore communities. On the contrary, investigations of shell shape and thickness changes over the last 130 years from adjacent sampling regions on the Southern North Sea coast revealed that contrary to global predictions, N. lapillus built continuously thicker shells while maintaining a consistent shell shape throughout the last century. Systematic modelling efforts suggested that the observed shell thickening resulted from higher annual temperatures, longer yearly calcification windows, nearshore eutrophication, and enhanced prey abundance, which mitigated the impact of other climate change factors. An investigation into the trace elemental composition of common pollutant metals in the same archival N. lapillus specimens revealed that shell Cu/Ca and Zn/Ca concentration ratios remained remarkably constant throughout the last 130 years despite substantial shifts in the environmental concentration. However, Pb/Ca concentration ratios showed a definite trend closely aligned with leaded petrol emissions in Europe over the same period. Discussing physiological and environmental drivers for the observed shell bound heavy metal patterns, I argue that, unlike for Pb, constraints on environmental dissolved Cu species abundance and biologically mediated control on internal Zn levels were likely responsible for a decoupling of shell-bound to total ambient Cu and Zn concentrations. The results highlight the complexity of internal and external pathways that govern the uptake of heavy metals into the molluscan shell and suggest that the shell of N. lapillus could be a suitable archive for a targeted investigation of Pb pollution in the intertidal zone.

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Different responses of phytoplankton and zooplankton communities to current changing coastal environments

Marine plankton are faced with novel challenges associated with environmental changes such as ocean acidification, warming, and eutrophication. However, data on the effects of simultaneous environmental changes on complex natural communities in coastal ecosystems are relatively limited. Here we made a systematic analysis of biological and environmental parameters in the Bohai Sea over the past three years to suggest that plankton communities responded differently to current changing coastal environments, with the increase of phytoplankton and the decrease of zooplankton. These different changes of phyto- and zooplankton potentially resulted from the fact that both the effect of acidification as a result of pH decline and the effect of warming as a consequence of increasing temperature favored phytoplankton over zooplankton at present. Furthermore, water eutrophication and salinity as well as heavy metals Hg, Zn, and As had more or less diverse consequences for the dynamics of phytoplankton and zooplankton. Differently, with ongoing climate change, we also revealed that both phytoplankton and zooplankton would decrease in the future under the influence of interactions between acidification and warming.

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Bioaccumulation of inorganic and organic mercury in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis: influence of ocean acidification and food type

The bioaccumulation of mercury (Hg) in marine organisms through various pathways has not yet been fully explored, particularly in cephalopods. This study utilises radiotracer techniques using the isotope 203Hg to investigate the toxicokinetics and the organotropism of waterborne inorganic Hg (iHg) and dietary inorganic and organic Hg (methylHg, MeHg) in juvenile common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. The effect of two contrasting CO2 partial pressures in seawater (400 and 1600 μatm, equivalent to pH 8.08 and 7.54 respectively) and two types of prey (fish and shrimp) were tested as potential driving factors of Hg bioaccumulation. After 14 days of waterborne exposure, juvenile cuttlefish showed a stable concentration factor of 709 ± 54 and 893 ± 117 at pH 8.08 and 7.54, respectively. The accumulated dissolved i203Hg was depurated relatively rapidly with a radiotracer biological half-life (Tb1/2) of 44 ± 12 and 55 ± 16 days at pH 8.08 and 7.54, respectively. During the whole exposure period, approximately half of the i203Hg was found in the gills, but i203Hg also increased in the digestive gland. When fed with 203Hg-radiolabelled prey, cuttlefish assimilated almost all the Hg provided (>95%) independently of the prey type. Nevertheless, the prey type played a major role on the depuration kinetics with Hg Tb1/2 approaching infinity in fish fed cuttlefish vs. 25 days in shrimp fed cuttlefish. Such a difference is explained by the different proportion of Hg species in the prey, with fish prey containing more than 80% of MeHg vs. only 30% in shrimp. Four days after ingestion of radiolabelled food, iHg was primarily found in the digestive organs while MeHg was transferred towards the muscular tissues. No significant effect of pH/pCO2 variation was observed during both the waterborne and dietary exposures on the bioaccumulation kinetics and tissue distribution of i203Hg and Me203Hg. Dietary exposure is the predominant pathway of Hg bioaccumulation in juvenile cuttlefish.

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Adaptation of a marine diatom to ocean acidification increases its sensitivity to toxic metal exposure


  • Adaptation to OA increased marine diatom’s sensitivity to heavy metals (HM).
  • OA-adapted cells decreased their growth and photosynthesis at high HM levels.
  • The increase in sensitivity is associated with reduced metabolic activity.


Most previous studies investigating the interplay of ocean acidification (OA) and heavy metal on marine phytoplankton were only conducted in short-term, which may provide conservative estimates of the adaptive capacity of them. Here, we examined the physiological responses of long-term (~900 generations) OA-adapted and non-adapted populations of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum to different concentrations of the two heavy metals Cd and Cu. Our results showed that long-term OA selected populations exhibited significantly lower growth and reduced photosynthetic activity than ambient CO2 selected populations at relatively high heavy metal levels. Those findings suggest that the adaptations to high CO2 results in an increased sensitivity of the marine diatom to toxic metal exposure. This study provides evidence for the costs and the cascading consequences associated with the adaptation of phytoplankton to elevated CO2 conditions, and improves our understanding of the complex interactions of future OA and heavy metal pollution in marine waters.

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Diel fluctuation superimposed on steady high pCO2 generates the most serious cadmium toxicity to marine copepods

Graphical abstract

Coastal systems experience diel fluctuation of pCO2 and cadmium (Cd) pollution; nevertheless, the effect of fluctuating pCO2 on Cd biotoxicity is poorly known. In this study, we initially performed the isotopically enriched organism bioassay to label Tigriopus japonicus with 113Cd (5 μg/L) to determine the Cd accumulation rate constant (kaccu) under ambient (400 μatm) and steadily (1000 μatm) and fluctuatingly elevated (1000 ± 600 μatm) pCO2 conditions for 48 h. Next, T. japonicus was interactively subjected to the above pCO2 exposures at Cd (control, 5, and 500 μg/L) treatments for 7 d. Biochemical and physiological responses for copepods were analyzed. The results showed that steadily increased pCO2 facilitated Cd bioaccumulation compared to ambient pCO2, and it was more under fluctuating acidification conditions. Despite compensatory reactions (e.g., increased energy production), Cd ultimately induced oxidative damage and apoptosis. Meanwhile, combined treatment exhibited higher toxicity (e.g., increased apoptosis) relative to Cd exposure, and even more if fluctuating acidification was considered. Intriguingly, fluctuating acidification inhibited Cd exclusion in Cd-treated copepods compared to steady acidification, linking to higher Cd kaccu and bioaccumulation. Collectively, CO2-driven acidification could aggravate Cd toxicity, providing a mechanistic understanding of the interaction between seawater acidification and Cd pollution in marine copepods.

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Phytoplankton community shift in response to experimental Cu addition at the elevated CO2 levels (Arabian Sea, winter monsoon)

Understanding phytoplankton community shifts under multiple stressors is becoming increasingly important. Among other combinations of stressors, the impact of trace metal toxicity on marine phytoplankton under the ocean acidification scenario is an important aspect to address. Such multiple stressor studies are rare from the Arabian Sea, one of the highest productive oceanic provinces within the North Indian Ocean. We studied the interactive impacts of copper (Cu) and CO2 enrichment on two natural phytoplankton communities from the eastern and central Arabian Sea. Low dissolved silicate (DSi < 2 µM) favoured smaller diatoms (e.g. Nitzschia sp.) and non-diatom (Phaeocystis). CO2 enrichment caused both positive (Nitzschia sp. and Phaeocystis sp.) and negative (Cylindrotheca closterium, Navicula sp., Pseudo-nitzschia sp., Alexandrium sp., and Gymnodinium sp.) growth impacts. The addition of Cu under the ambient CO2 level (A-CO2) hindered cell division in most of the species, whereas Chla contents were nearly unaffected. Interestingly, CO2 enrichment seemed to alleviate Cu toxicity in some species (Nitzschia sp., Cylindrotheca closterium, Guinardia flaccida, and Phaeocystis) and increased their growth rates. This could be related to the cellular Cu demand and energy budget at elevated CO2 levels. Dinoflagellates were more sensitive to Cu supply compared to diatoms and prymnesiophytes and could be related to the unavailability of prey. Such community shifts in response to the projected ocean acidification, oligotrophy, and Cu pollution may impact trophic transfer and carbon cycling in this region.

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Integrative assessment of biomarker responses in Mytilus galloprovincialis exposed to seawater acidification and copper ions

Graphical abstract


  • Both OA and Cu ions caused physiological disturbances to the mussel.
  • Mussels have the ability to restore most of the tested parameters from the stress of OA and Cu ions.
  • Gills are more sensitive than digestive glands.
  • IBR analysis demonstrated the co-exposure caused the most brutal impact to the mussel.


The interactive effects of ocean acidification (OA) and copper (Cu) ions on the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis are not well understood. The underlying mechanisms also remain obscure. In this study, individuals of M. galloprovincialis were exposed for 28 days to 25 μg/L and 50 μg/L Cu ions at two pH levels (ambient level – pH 8.1; acidified level – pH 7.6). The mussels were then monitored for 56 days to determine their recovery ability. Physiological parameters (clearance rate and respiration rate), oxidative stress and neurotoxicity biomarkers (activities of superoxide dismutase, lipid peroxidation, catalase, and acetylcholinesterase), as well as the recovery ability of these parameters, were investigated in two typical tissues (i.e., gills and digestive glands). Results showed that (1) OA affected the bioconcentration of Cu in the gills and digestive glands of the mussels; (2) both OA and Cu can lead to physiological disturbance, oxidative stress, cellular damage, energy metabolism disturbance, and neurotoxicity on M. galloprovincialis; (3) gill is more sensitive to OA and Cu than digestive gland; (4) Most of the biochemical and physiological alternations caused by Cu and OA exposures in M. galloprovincialis can be repaired by the recovery experiments; (5) integrated biomarker response (IBR) analysis demonstrated that both OA and Cu ions exposure caused survival stresses to the mussels, with the highest effect shown in the co-exposure treatment. This study highlights the necessity to include OA along with pollutants in future studies to better elucidate the risks of ecological perturbations. The work also sheds light on the recovery of marine animals after short-term environmental stresses when the natural environment has recovered.

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Emergent interactive effects of climate change and contaminants in coastal and ocean ecosystems

The effects of climate change (CC) on contaminants and their potential consequences to marine ecosystem services and human wellbeing are of paramount importance, as they pose overlapping risks. Here, we discuss how the interaction between CC and contaminants leads to poorly constrained impacts that affects the sensitivity of organisms to contamination leading to impaired ecosystem function, services and risk assessment evaluations. Climate drivers, such as ocean warming, ocean deoxygenation, changes in circulation, ocean acidification, and extreme events interact with trace metals, organic pollutants, excess nutrients, and radionuclides in a complex manner. Overall, the holistic consideration of the pollutants-climate change nexus has significant knowledge gaps, but will be important in understanding the fate, transport, speciation, bioavailability, toxicity, and inventories of contaminants. Greater focus on these uncertainties would facilitate improved predictions of future changes in the global biogeochemical cycling of contaminants and both human health and marine ecosystems.

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A global horizon scan of issues impacting marine and coastal biodiversity conservation

The biodiversity of marine and coastal habitats is experiencing unprecedented change. While there are well-known drivers of these changes, such as overexploitation, climate change and pollution, there are also relatively unknown emerging issues that are poorly understood or recognized that have potentially positive or negative impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems. In this inaugural Marine and Coastal Horizon Scan, we brought together 30 scientists, policymakers and practitioners with transdisciplinary expertise in marine and coastal systems to identify new issues that are likely to have a significant impact on the functioning and conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity over the next 5–10 years. Based on a modified Delphi voting process, the final 15 issues presented were distilled from a list of 75 submitted by participants at the start of the process. These issues are grouped into three categories: ecosystem impacts, for example the impact of wildfires and the effect of poleward migration on equatorial biodiversity; resource exploitation, including an increase in the trade of fish swim bladders and increased exploitation of marine collagens; and new technologies, such as soft robotics and new biodegradable products. Our early identification of these issues and their potential impacts on marine and coastal biodiversity will support scientists, conservationists, resource managers and policymakers to address the challenges facing marine ecosystems.

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Surviving in a changing ocean. Tolerance to acidification might affect the susceptibility of polychaetes to chemical contamination

Graphical abstract


  • CO2 vent systems are natural laboratory for studying the effects of multiple stressors.
  • We assess the effects of OA and pollution, using polychaetes naturally exposed to OA.
  • Limited influence of OA on the activity of antioxidant enzymes in polychaetes.
  • Polychaetes from the vent were more susceptible to acetone but more tolerant to Cu respect to controls.
  • Tolerance to OA could influence polychaete susceptibility to environmental pollution.


This study aimed to assess the combined effects of ocean acidification (OA) and pollution to the polychaete Syllis prolifera inhabiting the CO2 vent system of the Castello Aragonese (Ischia Island, Italy). We investigated the basal activities of antioxidant enzymes in organisms from the acidified site and from an ambient-pH control site in two different periods of the year. Results showed a limited influence of acidified conditions on the functionality of the antioxidant system. We then investigated the responsiveness of individuals living inside the CO2 vent compared to those from the control to face exposure to acetone and copper. Results highlighted a higher susceptibility of organisms from the vent to acetone and a different response of antioxidant enzymes in individuals from the two sites. Conversely, a higher tolerance to copper was observed in polychaetes from the acidified-site with respect to controls, but any significant oxidative stress was induced at sublethal concentrations.

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Abiotic stress in algae: response, signaling and transgenic approaches

High salinity, nutrient deficiency, heavy metals, desiccation, temperature fluctuations, and ultraviolet radiations are major abiotic stress factors considered inhospitable to algal growth and development in natural and artificial environments. All these stressful conditions cause effects on algal physiology and thus biochemical functioning. For instance, long-term exposure to hyper/hypo salinity conditions inhibits cell differentiation and reduces growth. Photosynthesis is completely blocked in algae’s dehydrated state, resulting in photoinhibition or photodamage. The limitation of nutrients in aquatic environments inhibits primary production via regulating phytoplankton community development and structure. Hence, in response to these stressful conditions, algae develop plenty of cellular, physiological, and morphological defences to survive and thrive. The conserved and generalized defence responses in algae include the production of secondary metabolites, desaturation of membrane lipids, activation of reactive species scavengers, and accumulation of compatible solutes. Moreover, a well-coordinated and timely response to such stresses involves signal perception and transduction mainly via phytohormones that could sustain algae growth under abiotic stress conditions. In addition, the combination of abiotic stresses and plant hormones could further elevate the biosynthesis of metabolites and enhance the ability of algae to tolerate abiotic stresses. This review aims to present different kinds of stressful conditions confronted by algae and their physiological and biochemical responses, the role of phytohormones in combatting these conditions, and, last, the future transgenic approaches for improving abiotic stress tolerance in algae.

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A triple threat: ocean warming, acidification and rare earth elements exposure triggers a superior antioxidant response and pigment production in the adaptable Ulva rigida


  • La and Gd were accumulated in 24h;
  • Elimination of La and Gd did not occur in U. rigida;
  • La and Gd showed different accumulation and elimination patterns in future predicted scenarios;
  • La and Gd triggered an efficient antioxidant defence response in U. rigida;
  • REE and climate change exposure requested a superior antioxidant response.


Anthropogenic increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations will lead to a drop of 0.4 units of seawater pH and ocean warming up to 4.8°C by 2100. Contaminant’s toxicity is known to increase under a climate change scenario. Rare earth elements (REE) are emerging contaminants, that until now have no regulation regarding maximum concentration and discharge into the environment and have become vital to new technologies such as electric and hybrid-electric vehicle batteries, wind turbine generators and low-energy lighting. Studies of REE, namely Lanthanum (La) and Gadolinium (Gd), bioaccumulation, elimination, and toxicity in a multi-stressor environment (e.g., warming and acidification) are lacking. Hence, we investigated the algae phytoremediation capacity, the ecotoxicological responses and total chlorophyll and carotenoid contents in Ulva rigida during 7 days of co-exposure to La or Gd (15 µg L−1 or 10 µg L−1, respectively), and warming and acidification. Additionally, we assessed these metals elimination, after a 7-day phase. After one day of experiment La and Gd clearly showed accumulation/adsorption in different patterns, at future conditions. Unlikely for Gd, Warming and Acidification contributed to the lowest La accumulation, and increased elimination. Lanthanum and Gd triggered an adequate activation of the antioxidant defence system, by avoiding lipid damage. Nevertheless, REE exposure in a near-future scenario triggered an overproduction of ROS that requested an enhanced antioxidant response. Additionally, an increase in total chlorophyll and carotenoids could also indicate an unforeseen energy expense, as a response to a multi-stressor environment.

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Single and combined ecotoxicological effects of ocean warming, acidification and lanthanum exposure on the surf clam (Spisula solida)


  • Lanthanum was bioaccumulated after just one day of exposure.
  • Elimination did not occur during the 7-day depuration phase.
  • The biochemical response was triggered, however damage occurred.
  • The La toxic effects are more severe in a changing world.


Lanthanum (La) is one of the most abundant emergent rare earth elements. Its release into the environment is enhanced by its use in various industrial applications. In the aquatic environment, emerging contaminants are one of the stressors with the ability to compromise the fitness of its inhabitants. Warming and acidification can also affect their resilience and are another consequence of the growing human footprint on the planet. However, from information gathered in the literature, a study on the effects of ocean warming, acidification, and their interaction with La was never carried out. To diminish this gap of knowledge, we explored the effects, combined and as single stressors, of ocean warming, acidification, and La (15 μg L−1) accumulation and elimination on the surf clam (Spisula solida). Specimens were exposed for 7 days and depurated for an additional 7-day period. Furthermore, a robust set of membrane-associated, protein, and antioxidant enzymes and non-enzymatic biomarkers (LPO, HSP, Ub, SOD, CAT, GPx, GST, TAC) were quantified. Lanthanum was bioaccumulated after just one day of exposure, in both control and climate change scenarios. A 7-day depuration phase was insufficient to achieve control values and in a warming scenario, La elimination was more efficient. Biochemical response was triggered, as highlighted by enhanced SOD, CAT, GST, and TAC levels, however as lipoperoxidation was observed it was insufficient to detoxify La and avoid damage. The HSP was largely inhibited in La treatments combined with warming and acidification. Concomitantly, lipoperoxidation was highest in clams exposed to La, warming, and acidification combined. The results highlight the toxic effects of La on this bivalve species and its enhanced potential in a changing world.

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Increasing arsenic accumulation as an implication of climate change: a case study using red algae

Climate change due to an increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a global issue. It can impact aquatic environments by affecting water flow, pollutant transformation and migration, and other toxicant-related effects. We assessed the interactive effects of temperature warming and pH changes on variations in accumulation of total arsenic (AsT) in the red alga Sarcodia suae at different levels of arsenite (AsIII). Result showed that AsT variations in the alga were moderated by significant joint effects of warming temperature and/or increasing pH levels and their interactions with increasing AsIII concentrations. Our study suggests possible deleterious impacts on macroalgal populations due to toxicological effects associated with prevailing environmental conditions. Therefore, improved pollution management, climate change adaptation, and mitigation strategies are needed to deal with current environmental issues and As aggravation.

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The biological uptake of dissolved iron in the changing Daya Bay, South China Sea: effect of pH and DO


  • Fe bioavailability affected by pH and DO regulates phytoplanktonic Fe uptake.
  • Nano-phytoplankton is more sensitive to the variation of seawater pH and DO.
  • Phytoplankton community tend to be miniaturized in the changing DYB.
  • Fe requirement in DYB goes higher accompanied with the phytoplankton miniaturization.
  • DYB is not an Fe-rich environment derived from the relative low Fe:C ratio.


The oceanic acidification and coastal hypoxia have potential to enhance biological uptake of dissolved iron (Fe) by phytoplankton. In this study, the Fe uptake rate (FeUR) in Daya Bay was significantly negatively correlated with pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) (r = −0.81 and −0.73, respectively, p < 0.001). In addition, binary regression (FeUR = −1.45 × pH − 0.10 × DO + 13.64) also indicated that both pH and DO played key roles in FeUR variations. As pH and DO decreased, Fe uptake by phytoplankton was promoted, and the contribution of nano-phytoplankton to Fe uptake increased significantly, while that of pico-FeUR decreased. These will result in the phytoplankton community to be miniaturized and Fe requirement of phytoplankton goes higher, thereby leading changes of phytoplankton composition and coastal ecosystem. This study helps to understand how Fe could affect the coastal ecosystem under the increasing anthropogenic influences.

Continue reading ‘The biological uptake of dissolved iron in the changing Daya Bay, South China Sea: effect of pH and DO’

Mangrove trace metal biogeochemistry response to global climate change

This review discusses observed impacts from different climate change-driven pressures on mangrove’s role in modulating trace metal transfer at the land-ocean interface. It contributes to the literature in a global context and shows mangroves as mitigators or providing positive feedback to metal mobilization. Most chalcophile metals2+ accumulate in mangrove soils associated with sulfides while high sedimentation rates avoid their oxidation. Exudation of oxygen by roots fixates Fe, which co-precipitates metals as oxyhydroxides in the rhizosphere. These two biogeochemical processes reduce trace metal availability to plants and their mobility within estuaries. However, climate change-driven pressures alter this geochemical equilibrium. Increasing atmospheric CO2 and temperature, and the intensity and frequency of extreme climatic events, have proved to affect mangrove functioning and cover, but no direct observation on the impact on metal biogeochemistry is presently available, whereas sea level rise and saline intrusion impacts on the fate of metals have already been observed. Sea level rise increases erosion, that dissociates deposited sulfides releasing metals to the water column. Released metals adsorb onto suspended particles and can re-deposit in the estuary or are exported to continental shelf sediments. Saline intrusion may oxidize deeper sediment layers releasing metals to porewaters. Part of the mobilized metals may remain in solution complexed with DOM and have their bioavailability increased, as shown by high bioaccumulation factors and biomagnification and high metal concentrations in the estuarine biota, which results in higher human exposure through fisheries consumption. Since erosion occurs preferentially at the sea border and higher sedimentation at the higher reaches of the estuary, triggering mangroves migration landward, spatial gradients are formed, and shall be taken into consideration when planning mitigation or adaptation strategies. These observations suggest disruption of traditional humans dwelling in mangrove dominated coastlines by increasing contamination of coastal fisheries, often the principal protein source for those groups and an important source of income. Further research into the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of climate change driven alterations to metal biogeochemical processes in mangroves as contaminant levels are expected to increase.

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The combined effects of ocean acidification and copper on the physiological responses of the tropical coral Stylophora pistillata


  • Exposure to increased Cu concentrations suppressed coral calcification.
  • Calcification was suppressed further when exposed to Cu under high pCO2.
  • Respiration decreased after two weeks when stressors were applied in combination.


A decrease in ocean pH of 0.3 units will likely double the proportion of dissolved copper (Cu) present as the free metal ion, Cu2+, the most bioavailable form of Cu, and one of the most common marine pollutants. We assess the impact of ocean acidification and Cu, separately and in combination, on calcification, photosynthesis and respiration of sub-colonies of a single tropical Stylophora pistillata colony. After 15 days of treatment, total calcification rates were significantly decreased in corals exposed to high seawater pCO2 (∼1000-μatm, 2100 scenario) and at both ambient (1.6–1.9 nmols) and high (2.5–3.6 nmols) dissolved Cu concentrations compared to controls. The effect was increased when both stressors were combined. Coral respiration rates were significantly reduced by the combined stressors after 2 weeks of exposure, indicating the importance of experiment duration. It is therefore likely rising atmospheric CO2 will exacerbate the negative effects of Cu pollution to S. pistillata.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of ocean acidification and copper on the physiological responses of the tropical coral Stylophora pistillata’

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