Posts Tagged 'molecular biology'

Ocean acidification increases copper accumulation and exacerbates copper toxicity in Amphioctopus fangsiao (Mollusca: Cephalopoda): a potential threat to seafood safety


  • A. fangsiao can adapt well to ocean acidification after 21-days experiment.
  • Copper accumulation in tissues showed increase in acidified seawater.
  • Copper exposure can influence the growth and feeding of A. fangsiao.
  • Acidification exacerbated the copper effect in metabolism and oxidative stress.
  • Copper exposure triggered DNA and protein and mitochondrial damage.


Ocean acidification (OA) and trace metal pollutants coexist to exert combined effects on the functions and services of marine ecosystems. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide has caused a decrease in the pH of the ocean, affecting the bioavailability and speciation of trace metals and consequently altering metal toxicity in marine organisms. As an important trace metal functioned in hemocyanin, the richness of Copper (Cu) in octopuses is remarkable. Therefore, the biomagnification and bioaccumulation capacities of Cu in octopuses may be a non-negligible risk of contamination. Here, Amphioctopus fangsiao was continuously exposed to acidified seawater (pH 7.8) and copper (50 μg/L) to investigate the combined effect of ocean acidification and Cu exposure on marine mollusks. Our results showed that A. fangsiao could adapt well to ocean acidification after 21 days of the rearing experiment. However, the accumulation of Cu in A. fangsiao intestine increased significantly in acidified seawater under high levels of Cu stress. In addition, Cu exposure can influence the physiological function of A. fangsiao, including growth and feeding. This study also demonstrated that Cu exposure disturbed glucolipid metabolism and induced oxidative damage to intestine tissue, and ocean acidification further exacerbated these toxic effects. The obvious histological damage and microbiota alterations were also caused by Cu stress and its combined effect with ocean acidification. At the transcription level, we found numerous differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and significantly enriched KEGG pathways, involving glycolipid metabolism, transmembrane transport, glucolipid metabolism, oxidative stress, mitochondrial, protein and DNA damage, all revealing the strong toxicological synergetic effect of Cu and OA exposure and the molecular adaptation mechanism of A. fangsiao. Collectively, this study demonstrated that octopuses may withstand future ocean acidification conditions, however, the complex interactions of future OA and trace metal pollution need to be emphasized. OA can influence the toxicity of trace metals, inducing a potential threat to marine organism safety.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification increases copper accumulation and exacerbates copper toxicity in Amphioctopus fangsiao (Mollusca: Cephalopoda): a potential threat to seafood safety’

Acidification and hypoxia drive physiological trade-offs in oysters and partial loss of nutrient cycling capacity in oyster holobiont


Reef building oysters provide vast ecological benefits and ecosystem services. A large part of their role in driving ecological processes is mediated by the microbial communities that are associated with the oysters; together forming the oyster holobiont. While changing environmental conditions are known to alter the physiological performance of oysters, it is unclear how multiple stressors may alter the ability of the oyster holobiont to maintain its functional role.


Here, we exposed oysters to acidification and hypoxia to examine their physiological responses (molecular defense and immune response), changes in community structure of their associated microbial community, and changes in water nutrient concentrations to evaluate how acidification and hypoxia will alter the oyster holobiont’s ecological role.


We found clear physiological stress in oysters exposed to acidification, hypoxia, and their combination but low mortality. However, there were different physiological trade-offs in oysters exposed to acidification or hypoxia, and the combination of stressors incited greater physiological costs (i.e., >600% increase in protein damage and drastic decrease in haemocyte counts). The microbial communities differed depending on the environment, with microbial community structure partly readjusted based on the environmental conditions. Microbes also seemed to have lost some capacity in nutrient cycling under hypoxia and multi-stressor conditions (~50% less nitrification) but not acidification.


We show that the microbiota associated to the oyster can be enriched differently under climate change depending on the type of environmental change that the oyster holobiont is exposed to. In addition, it may be the primary impacts to oyster physiology which then drives changes to the associated microbial community. Therefore, we suggest the oyster holobiont may lose some of its nutrient cycling properties under hypoxia and multi-stressor conditions although the oysters can regulate their physiological processes to maintain homeostasis on the short-term.

Continue reading ‘Acidification and hypoxia drive physiological trade-offs in oysters and partial loss of nutrient cycling capacity in oyster holobiont’

Elevated water CO2 can prevent dietary-induced osteomalacia in post-smolt Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar, L.)

Expansion of land-based systems in fish farms elevate the content of metabolic carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water. High CO2 is suggested to increase the bone mineral content in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar, L.). Conversely, low dietary phosphorus (P) halts bone mineralization. This study examines if high CO2 can counteract reduced bone mineralization imposed by low dietary P intake. Atlantic salmon post-seawater transfer (initial weight 207.03 g) were fed diets containing 6.3 g/kg (0.5P), 9.0 g/kg (1P), or 26.8 g/kg (3P) total P for 13 weeks. Atlantic salmon from all dietary P groups were reared in seawater which was not injected with CO2 and contained a regular CO2 level (5 mg/L) or in seawater with injected CO2 thus raising the level to 20 mg/L. Atlantic salmon were analyzed for blood chemistry, bone mineral content, vertebral centra deformities, mechanical properties, bone matrix alterations, expression of bone mineralization, and P metabolism-related genes. High CO2 and high P reduced Atlantic salmon growth and feed intake. High CO2 increased bone mineralization when dietary P was low. Atlantic salmon fed with a low P diet downregulated the fgf23 expression in bone cells indicating an increased renal phosphate reabsorption. The current results suggest that reduced dietary P could be sufficient to maintain bone mineralization under conditions of elevated CO2. This opens up a possibility for lowering the dietary P content under certain farming conditions.

Continue reading ‘Elevated water CO2 can prevent dietary-induced osteomalacia in post-smolt Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar, L.)’

High and diurnally fluctuating carbon dioxide exposure produces lower mercury toxicity in a marine copepod


  • Elevated pCO2 decreased Hg accumulation in Hg-treated T. japonicus.
  • Fluctuating elevated pCO2 further decreased Hg bioaccumulation.
  • Hg exposure caused energy depletion and oxidative stress in T. japonicus.
  • Elevated pCO2 initiated compensatory response in copepods to decrease Hg toxicity.
  • Fluctuating elevated pCO2 presented more immune defense related genes/processes.


Coastal waters have experienced fluctuations in partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) and mercury (Hg) pollution, yet little is known concerning how natural pCO2 fluctuations affect Hg biotoxicity. Here, a marine copepod Tigriopus japonicus was interactively exposed to different seawater pCO2 (ambient 400, steady elevated 1000, and fluctuating elevated 1000 ± 600 μatm) scenarios and Hg (control, 2 μg/L) treatments for 7 d. The results showed that elevated pCO2 decreased Hg bioaccumulation, and it was even more under fluctuating elevated pCO2 condition. We found energy depletion and oxidative stress under Hg-treated copepods, while combined exposure initiated compensatory response to alleviate Hg toxicity. Intriguingly, fluctuating acidification presented more immune defense related genes/processes in Hg-treated copepods when compared to steady acidification, probably linking with the greater decrease in Hg bioaccumulation. Collectively, understanding how fluctuating acidification interacts with Hg contaminant will become more crucial in predicting their risks to coastal biota and ecosystems.

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Impacts of ocean acidification and warming on post-larval growth and metabolism in two populations of the great scallop (Pecten maximus L.) 

Ocean acidification and warming are key stressors for many marine organisms. Some organisms display physiological acclimatisation or plasticity, but this may vary across species ranges, especially if populations are adapted to local climatic conditions. Understanding how acclimatisation potential varies among populations is therefore important in predicting species responses to climate change. We carried out a common garden experiment to investigate how different populations of the economically important great scallop (Pecten maximus) from France and Norway responded to variation in temperature and pCO2 concentration. After acclimation, post-larval scallops (spat) were reared for 31 days at one of two temperatures (13°C and 19°C) under either ambient or elevated pCO2 (pH 8.0 and pH 7.7). We combined measures of proteomic, metabolic, and phenotypic traits to produce an integrative picture of how physiological plasticity varies between the populations. The proteome of French spat showed significant sensitivity to environmental variation, with 12 metabolic, structural and stress-response proteins responding to temperature and/or pCO2. Principal component analysis revealed seven energy metabolism proteins in French spat that were consistent with countering ROS stress under elevated temperature. Oxygen uptake in French spat did not change under elevated temperature, but increased under elevated pCO2. In contrast, Norwegian spat reduced oxygen uptake under both elevated temperature and pCO2. Metabolic plasticity seemingly allowed French scallops to maintain greater energy availability for growth than Norwegian spat. However, increased physiological plasticity and growth in French spat may come at a cost, as French (but not Norwegian) spat showed reduced survival under elevated temperature.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of ocean acidification and warming on post-larval growth and metabolism in two populations of the great scallop (Pecten maximus L.) ‘

Responses of biogenic dimethylated sulfur compounds to environmental changes in the northwestern Pacific continental sea

Continental seas are facing rapid environmental shifts, but how biogenic dimethylated sulfur compounds, including dimethylsulfide (DMS), dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), and dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), will respond to these environmental changes remains poorly understood. Here we investigated the effects of nutrient input, ocean acidification, and dust deposition on the phytoplankton community and organic sulfur cycle in the East China Sea. Nutrient input promoted phytoplankton growth and increased the concentrations of DMS, DMSP, and DMSO. With sufficient nutrients, especially nitrate, the dissolved DMSP degradation was inhibited, and the bacterial DMSP-cleavage pathway (inferred by dddP gene abundance) was enhanced, causing increased DMS production. The sensitivity of phytoplankton biomass and DMS to ocean acidification varied with different initial nutrient levels, demonstrating insensitivity under eutrophic conditions and negative responses under nutrient-limited conditions. The ocean acidification promoted the dissolved DMSP degradation and bacterial DMSP-demethylation pathway (inferred by dmdA gene abundance) and weakened the DMS production, causing the decreases of DMS and DMSP. The nutrient from dust deposition (2 mg L−1) was identified as the key factor in enhancing phytoplankton biomass and the organic sulfur compounds concentrations, but trace metals input from dust deposition had no significant effect. This study has identified environmental drivers and suppressors of phytoplankton and biogenic dimethylated sulfur compounds in a changing marine environment, which will enable the effective modeling of future climate change.

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Physiological and molecular insights into adaptive evolution of the marine model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum under low-pH stress

The direct use of industrial flue gas in microalgae production is desired for mitigating CO2 emissions, but the low pH resulting from the inflow of acidic gases (mainly CO2, NOx, and SOx) imposes detrimental effects on microalgal growth and is considered the main technical challenge for simultaneous biomass production and CO2 sequestration. In this study, we investigated the adaptive responses of the model marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum to acidic stress at pH 6.0. Gradual changes in the ratio of morphotypes, chlorophyll content, and photosynthetic efficiency were observed as a result of adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) under constant acidic stress. The evolved strains showed a significant increase in growth rate in acidic conditions after ALE, and phenotypic characterization demonstrated a stable trait of acid tolerance with an average increase in growth by 110.4%, 46.1%, and 27.5% at pH 5.5, 6.0, and 6.5, respectively compared with the parental wild-type strain. Furthermore, RNA sequencing and whole-genome re-sequencing analyses revealed that core pathways, including photosynthesis, pH regulation/ion transport, and carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism, were upregulated across all three evolved strains, though they exhibited different evolutionary trajectories. This study demonstrated the feasibility of recovering photosynthetic capability after acidic stress in the marine diatom P. tricornutum through ALE and provided molecular data to reveal essential alterations in genetic regulations that could enable cells to tolerate low environmental pH.

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Integrated FT-ICR MS and metabolome reveals diatom-derived organic matter by bacterial transformation under warming and acidification


  • The key roles of algae-associated bacteria in the transformation of algae-derived OM.
  • Bacteria have different preferences for the conversion of compounds in algae-derived OM.
  • Warming and acidification affect microbial transformation of organic matter.


Bacterial transformation and processing of diatom-derived organic matter (OM) is extremely important for the cycling of production and energy in marine ecosystems; this process contributes to the production of microbial food webs. In this study, a cultivable bacterium (Roseobacter sp. SD-R1) from the marine diatom Skeletonema dohrnii were isolated and identified. A combined Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS)/untargeted metabolomics approach was used to synthesize the results of bacterial transformation with dissolved OM (DOM) and lysate OM (LOM) under warming and acidification through laboratory experiments. Roseobacter sp. SD-R1 had different preferences for the conversion of molecules in S. dohrnii-derived DOM and LOM treatments. The effects of warming and acidification contribute to the increased number and complexity of molecules of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur after the bacterial transformation of OM. The chemical complexity generated by bacterial metabolism provides new insights into the mechanisms that shape OM complexity.

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Oxidative stress and apoptosis in disk abalone (Haliotis discus hannai) caused by water temperature and pH changes

Ocean warming and acidification can induce oxidative stress in marine species, resulting in cellular damage and apoptosis. However, the effects of pH and water temperature conditions on oxidative stress and apoptosis in disk abalone are poorly understood. This study investigated, for the first time, the effects of different water temperatures (15, 20, and 25 °C) and pH levels (7.5 and 8.1) on oxidative stress and apoptosis in disk abalone by estimating levels of H2O2, malondialdehyde (MDA), dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and the apoptosis-related gene caspase-3. We also visually confirmed apoptotic effects of different water temperatures and pH levels via in situ hybridization and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling assays. The levels of H2O2, MDA, SOD, CAT, and caspase-3 increased under low/high water temperature and/or low pH conditions. Expression of the genes was high under high temperature and low pH conditions. Additionally, the apoptotic rate was high under high temperatures and low pH conditions. These results indicate that changes in water temperature and pH conditions individually and in combination trigger oxidative stress in abalone, which can induce cell death. Specifically, high temperatures induce apoptosis by increasing the expression of the apoptosis-related gene caspase-3.

Continue reading ‘Oxidative stress and apoptosis in disk abalone (Haliotis discus hannai) caused by water temperature and pH changes’

Morpho-anatomical, and chemical characterization of some calcareous Mediterranean red algae species

Climatic changes are anticipated to have a detrimental effect on calcifying marine species. Calcareous red algae may be especially vulnerable to seasonal variations since they are common and essential biologically, but there is little research on the morpho-anatomical, and chemical characterization of such species. This study conducted the seasonal investigation of the three dominant Mediterranean calcified red algae. Morphological and 18S rRNA analysis confirmed the identification of collected species as Corallina officinalis, Jania rubens, and Amphiroa rigida. In general, C. officinalis was represented in the four seasons and flourishing maximum in autumn (70% of total species individuals). While J. rubens species was represented in winter, autumn, and spring and completely absent in summer. A. rigida was abundant only in the summer season by 40%. A full morphological and anatomical description of these species were examined, and their chemical compositions (carbohydrate, protein, lipid, pigments, and elements content) were assessed in different seasons, where carbohydrates were the dominant accumulates followed by proteins and lipids. Pearson correlation analysis confirmed a positive correlation between salinity level and nitrogenous nutrients of the seawater with the pigment contents (phycobiliproteins, carotenoids, and chlorophyll a) of the studied seaweeds. The results proved that calcified red algae were able to deposit a mixture of calcium carbonates such as calcite, vaterite, calcium oxalate, calcite-III I calcium carbonate, and aragonite in variable forms depending on the species.

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Ocean acidification has a strong effect on communities living on plastic in mesocosms

We conducted a mesocosm experiment to examine how ocean acidification (OA) affects communities of prokaryotes and eukaryotes growing on single-use drinking bottles in subtropical eutrophic waters of the East China Sea. Based on 16S rDNA gene sequencing, simulated high CO2 significantly altered the prokaryotic community, with the relative abundance of the phylum Planctomycetota increasing by 49%. Under high CO2, prokaryotes in the plastisphere had enhanced nitrogen dissimilation and ureolysis, raising the possibility that OA may modify nutrient cycling in subtropical eutrophic waters. The relative abundance of pathogenic and animal parasite bacteria also increased under simulated high CO2. Our results show that elevated CO2 levels significantly affected several animal taxa based on 18S rDNA gene sequencing. For example, Mayorella amoebae were highly resistant, whereas Labyrinthula were sensitive to OA. Thus, OA may alter plastisphere food chains in subtropical eutrophic waters.

Scientific Significance Statement

Plastic waste in the ocean is an urgent environmental concern and has given rise to a novel habitat, known as the “plastisphere.” Under ocean acidification (OA), changes in plastisphere community composition may alter plastic degradation, deposition, and passage through food webs, but these have not been studied yet. This is the first study about the effects of simulated high CO2 on the plastisphere using a mesocosm. We discovered that after 1 month the beta diversity of prokaryotic communities living on single-use plastic drinking bottles was significantly different under different carbon dioxide concentrations, with more pathogens at high CO2. Based on function prediction analysis, the relative abundance of bacterial taxa involved in nitrogen and nitrate respiration and ureolysis was significantly higher under simulated high CO2. We conclude that OA has significant effects on the plastisphere and its predicted functions.

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Ocean acidification alters the benthic biofilm communities in intertidal soft sediments

Microphytobenthos (MPB) and bacterial biofilms play crucial roles in primary and secondary production, nutrient cycling and invertebrate settlement in coastal ecosystems, yet little is known of the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on these communities in intertidal soft sediments. To fill in this gap, a 28-day CO2 enhancement experiment was conducted for the benthic biofilms in soft intertidal sediments (muds and sands) from Qingdao, China. This experiment included three CO2 treatments: 400 ppm CO2 (control), 700 ppm CO2 and 1000 ppm CO2 (IPCC predicted value in 2100), which were established in a three-level CO2 incubator that can adjust the CO2 concentration in the overlying air. The effects of OA on benthic biofilms were assessed in the following three aspects: MPB biomass, biofilm community structure and microbial biogeochemical cycling (e.g., C-cycle, N-cycle and S-cycle). This study found that the 700 ppm CO2 treatment did not significantly affect the benthic biofilms in intertidal soft sediments, but the 1000 ppm CO2 treatment significantly altered the biofilm community composition and potentially their role in microbial biogeochemical cycling in sediments (especially in sandy sediments). For the bacterial community in biofilms, the 1000 ppm CO2 enhancement increased the relative abundance of Alteromonadales and Bacillales but decreased the relative abundance of Rhodobacterales and Flavobacteriales. For microbial biogeochemical cycling, the 1000 ppm CO2 treatment enhanced the potential of chemoheterotrophic activity, nitrate reduction and sulfur respiration in sediments, likely resulting in a more stressful environment (hypoxic and enriched H2S) for most benthic organisms. Even though incubations in this study were only 28 days long and thus couldn’t fully accommodate the range of longer-term adaptions, it still suggests that benthic biofilms in intertidal sandy sediments are likely to change significantly near the end of the century if anthropogenic CO2 emissions unmitigated, with profound implications on local ecosystems and biogeochemical cycling.

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Secretory and transcriptomic responses of mantle cells to low pH in the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Since the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) due to anthropogenic activities has increased at unprecedented rates. One-third of the atmospheric anthropogenic CO2 emissions are dissolved in the oceans affecting the chemical equilibrium of seawater, which in turn leads to a decrease in pH and carbonate ion (CO32-) concentration, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification (OA). This chemical disequilibrium can be detrimental to marine organisms (e.g., mollusks) that fabricate mineralized structures based on calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Most studies on the effect of reduced pH in seawater have been conducted on the early developmental stages of shell-building invertebrates, given less attention to how adult individuals face OA stress. Here, we evaluate histological, secretory, and transcriptional changes in the mantle of adult oysters (Crassostrea gigas) exposure to ambient (8.0 ± 0.2) and reduced (7.6 ± 0.2) pH during 20 days. Most histological observations did not show differences in terms of mantle cell morphology. However, Alcian Blue/PAS staining revealed significant differences in the number of Alcian Blue positive cells in the mantle edge, suggesting a decrease in the secretory activity in this morphogenetic zone. Transcriptomic analysis revealed 172 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between mantle tissues from adult oysters kept in normal and reduced pH conditions. Almost 18% of the DEGs encode secreted proteins that are likely to be contributing to shell fabrication and patterning. 17 of 31 DEGs encoding secreted proteins correspond to oyster-specific genes, highlighting the fact that molluscan shell formation is underpinned by a rapidly evolving secretome. The GO analysis of DEGs encoding secreted proteins showed that they are involved in the cellular response to stimulus, response to stress, protein binding, and ion binding, suggesting these biological processes and molecular functions are altered by OA. This study demonstrates that histology and gene expression profiling can advance our understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying adult oyster tolerance to low pH conditions.

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Two treatment methods on Ulva prolifera bloom result in distinctively different ecological effects in coastal environment

Green tides Ulva prolifera have broken out in the Yellow Sea for more than 10 years, becoming a periodic ecological disaster. The largest-ever green tide that occurred in 2021 promoted innovation in treatment methods. Different from the traditional harvest-disposal method, a microbial complex formulation was firstly sprayed on the harvest U. prolifera that promotes rapid degradation, and then fermented and disposed into the sea. At present, little was known about the ecological effects of those different treatment methods. In order to examine this hypothesis, we run an in-lab incubation of 60 days to simulate the two methods to degrade U. prolifera, with focuses on the degradation ensued impacts on water quality. The degradation process of fresh U. prolifera over two months was dominated by the continuous and slow release of DOM, and the concentration of DOM in the water column was hardly observed to decrease within two months. The pre-discomposed-disposal method also significantly altered microbial community structure. The pre-decomposing treatment with microbial complex formulations destroyed U. prolifera cell tissues and changed its physical state in seawater from floating to fast depositing, and increased the degradation rate by about 14 times. The rapid decomposition of the released bioactive organic matter consumed a substantial amount of dissolved oxygen in local seawater, which has the potential risk of causing local hypoxia and acidification in a short-term. The pre-decomposition treatment of U. prolifera could be a practical and efficient countermeasures to U. prolifera blooming. After the complete degradation of the pre-decomposed U. prolifera, the resulting dissolved organic matter could increase TA to resist acidification. Overall, compared with traditional harvest-packing-disposal method, the pre-decomposing-disposal treatment is an efficient and environmental-friendly disposal method to deal with the U. prolifera “green tide”, but it should be used cautiously.

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Effect of ocean acidification on the growth, response and hydrocarbon degradation of coccolithophore-bacterial communities exposed to crude oil

Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria, which can be found living with eukaryotic phytoplankton, play a pivotal role in the fate of oil spillage to the marine environment. Considering the susceptibility of calcium carbonate-bearing phytoplankton under future ocean acidification conditions and their oil-degrading communities to oil exposure under such conditions, we investigated the response of non-axenic E. huxleyi to crude oil under ambient versus elevated CO2 concentrations. Under elevated CO2 conditions, exposure to crude oil resulted in the immediate decline of E. huxleyi, with concomitant shifts in the relative abundance of Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria. Survival of E. huxleyi under ambient conditions following oil enrichment was likely facilitated by enrichment of oil-degraders Methylobacterium and Sphingomonas, while the increase in relative abundance of Marinobacter and unclassified Gammaproteobacteria may have increased competitive pressure with E. huxleyi for micronutrient acquisition. Biodegradation of the oil was not affected by elevated CO2 despite a shift in relative abundance of known and putative hydrocarbon degraders. While ocean acidification does not appear to affect microbial degradation of crude oil, elevated mortality responses of E. huxleyi and shifts in the bacterial community illustrates the complexity of microalgal-bacterial interactions and highlights the need to factor these into future ecosystem recovery projections.

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High taxonomic diversity and miniaturization in benthic communities under persistent natural CO2 disturbances

Metabarcoding techniques have revolutionized ecological research in recent years, facilitating the differentiation of cryptic species and revealing previously hidden diversity. In the current scenario of climate change and ocean acidification, biodiversity loss is one of the main threats to marine ecosystems. Here, we explored the effects of ocean acidification on marine benthic communities using DNA metabarcoding to assess the diversity of algae and metazoans. Specifically, we examined the natural pH gradient generated by the Fuencaliente CO2 vent system, located near La Palma Island (Canary Islands). High-resolution COI metabarcoding analyses revealed high levels of taxonomic diversity in an acidified natural area for the first time. This high number of species arises from the detection of small and cryptic species that were previously undetectable by other techniques. Such species are apparently tolerant to the acidification levels expected in future oceans. Hence and following our results, future subtropical communities are expected to keep high biodiversity values under an acidification scenario, although they will tend toward overall miniaturization due to the dominance of small algal and invertebrate species, leading to changes in ecosystem functions.


Electronic supplementary material is available online at

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Review of warming and acidification effects to the ecotoxicity of pharmaceuticals on aquatic organisms in the era of climate change


  • Acidification and warming modulates the ecotoxicity of pharmaceuticals.
  • Biochemical, cellular and behavioral biomarkers show a response.
  • Trends of change in acute and chronic toxicity were drug dependent.
  • Acidification modified the toxicity of selected ionizable pharmaceuticals.
  • Bioaccumulation was modified by target effects of global warming.


An increase in the temperature and the acidification of the aquatic environment are among the many consequences of global warming. Climate change can also negatively affect aquatic organisms indirectly, by altering the toxicity of pollutants. Models of climate change impacts on the distribution, fate and ecotoxicity of persistent pollutants are now available. For pharmaceuticals, however, as new environmental pollutants, there are no predictions on this issue. Therefore, this paper organizes the existing knowledge on the effects of temperature, pH and both stressors combined on the toxicity of pharmaceuticals on aquatic organisms. Besides lethal toxicity, the molecular, physiological and behavioral biomarkers of sub-lethal stress were also assessed. Both acute and chronic toxicity, as well as bioaccumulation, were found to be affected. The direction and magnitude of these changes depend on the specific pharmaceutical, as well as the organism and conditions involved. Unfortunately, the response of organisms was enhanced by combined stressors. We compare the findings with those known for persistent organic pollutants, for which the pH has a relatively low effect on toxicity. The acid-base constant of molecules, as assumed, have an effect on the toxicity change with pH modulation. Studies with bivalves have been were overrepresented, while too little attention was paid to producers. Furthermore, the limited number of pharmaceuticals have been tested, and metabolites skipped altogether. Generally, the effects of warming and acidification were rather indicated than explored, and much more attention needs to be given to the ecotoxicology of pharmaceuticals in climate change conditions.

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Balance dysfunction in large yellow croaker in response to ocean acidification


  • Hearing system is important to soniferous and commercial large yellow croaker.
  • How structure and function of whole inner ear responds to acidification is unknow.
  • Left and right paired lapillus became asymmetrical after acidification.
  • Unable to maintain balance after exposure to higher CO2 acidification
  • Nervous system function and mineralization pathways were enriched by RNA-seq.


Large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea) is a coastal-dwelling soniferous, commercially important fish species that is sensitive to sound. An understanding of how ocean acidification might affect its auditory system is therefore important for its long-term viability and management as a fisheries resource. We tested the effects of ocean acidification with four CO2 treatments (440 ppm (control), 1000 ppm, 1800 ppm, and 3000 ppm) on the inner ear system of this species. After exposure to acidified water for 50 d, the impacts on the perimeter and mass of the sagitta, asteriscus, and lapillus otoliths were determined. In the acidified water treatments, the shape of sagittal otoliths became more irregular, and the surface became rougher. Similar sound frequency ranges triggered startle responses of fish in all treatments. In the highest CO2 treatment (3000 ppm CO2), significant asymmetry of the left and right lapillus perimeter and weight was apparent. Moreover, in the higher CO2 treatments (1800 ppm and 3000 ppm CO2), the fish were unable to maintain a balanced dorsal-up posture and tilted to one side. This result suggested that the balance functions of the inner ear might be affected by ocean acidification, which may threaten large yellow croaker individuals and populations. The molecular response to acidification was analyzed by RNA-Seq. The differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between right and left sensory epithelia of the utricle in each CO2 treatment group were identified. In higher CO2 concentration groups, nervous system function and regulation of bone mineralization pathways were enriched with DEGs. The comparative transcriptome analyses provide valuable molecular information about how the inner ear system responds to an acidified environment.

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Oyster biomineralisation in acidifying oceans: from genes to shells

Biomineralisation is the process of biologically controlled shell fabrication in marine calcifiers including edible oysters where shell matrix proteins and organic molecules secreted by mantle tissue controls calcium carbonate nucleation, crystallisation, growth, and mechanical properties. It is also one of the key processes that is notably affected in marine calcifiers under human induced environmental stressor, ocean acidification (OA). Understanding molecular changes in the biomineralisation process under OA, therefore, is key to developing conservation strategies for protecting ecologically and economically important oyster species. In this PhD thesis, I have presented hierarchical analyses of biomineralisation mechanisms of Crassostrea hongkongensis (Hong Kong oysters) under OA. The hierarchical analyses include study of changes in DNA methylation and gene expression of mantle tissue of juvenile Hong Kong oysters under OA. On top of studying molecular changes, this study also has incorporated shell mechanical properties in terms of micro-structure, shell crystal orientation and micro-hardness. In addition to juveniles, larvae which are known to be sensitive to OA than juveniles and adults, were also studied for understanding their shell fabrication capacity under OA. This study is also the first to attempt characterisation of shell proteome changes in an oyster species under OA. The results indicate moderate resilience of Hong Kong oyster biomineralisation to OA. Specifically, calcium binding or signalling related genes were subtly differentially expressed in mantle under OA, with no correlation between gene expression and DNA methylation changes. Hong Kong oysters were able to make unimpaired shells in terms of micro-structure and nanostructure (crystal orientation) in both larval and juvenile stages. We conclude that OA would be still a dissolution problem for resilient species such as Hong Kong oysters despite the organism’s ability to make error free shells under OA. We also define the concept directional dissolution – where shell dissolution is directional from hinge to shell edge; and from outer periostracum to inner layers. Ecologists can adapt the directional dissolution concept for accurate use of shell dissolution as a parameter for OA biomonitoring. This thesis will be of interest not only to marine molecular biologists and ecologists but also to material scientists who are interested in biomimetic material designing.

Continue reading ‘Oyster biomineralisation in acidifying oceans: from genes to shells’

Acclimatization in a changing environment: linking larval and juvenile performance in the quahog Mercenaria mercenaria

Marine invertebrates in coastal communities are currently experiencing unprecedented, rapid environmental change. These symptoms of climate change and ocean acidification are projected to worsen faster than can be accommodated by evolutionary processes like adaptation via natural selection, necessitating investigations of alternative mechanisms that facilitate adaptive responses to environmental change. This dissertation posits that in the absence of adaptation, early development (larval) exposure to stressors can increase population tolerance by leveraging existing variation in the energy metabolism and host-microbial interactions. Focusing specifically on resiliency to acidification (low pH), hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen), and elevated temperature stress in the clam, Mercenaria mercenaria, this dissertation uses a combination of laboratory and field experiments in conjunction with next-generation sequencing and physiological assays to investigate the relationship between host health, microbial community structure, and environmental change.

Continue reading ‘Acclimatization in a changing environment: linking larval and juvenile performance in the quahog Mercenaria mercenaria’

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