Posts Tagged 'molecular biology'

Responses of intertidal bacterial biofilm communities to increasing pCO2

The effects of ocean acidification on ecosystems remain poorly understood, because it is difficult to simulate the effects of elevated CO2 on entire marine communities. Natural systems enriched in CO2 are being used to help understand the long-term effects of ocean acidification in situ. Here, we compared biofilm bacterial communities on intertidal cobbles/boulders and bedrock along a seawater CO2 gradient off Japan. Samples sequenced for 16S rRNA showed differences in bacterial communities with different pCO2 and between habitat types. In both habitats, bacterial diversity increased in the acidified conditions. Differences in pCO2 were associated with differences in the relative abundance of the dominant phyla. However, despite the differences in community composition, there was no indication that these changes would be significant for nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. As well as direct effects of seawater chemistry on the biofilm, increased microalgal growth and decreased grazing may contribute to the shift in bacterial composition at high CO2, as documented by other studies. Thus, the effects of changes in bacterial community composition due to globally increasing pCO2 levels require further investigation to assess the implications for marine ecosystem function. However, the apparent lack of functional shifts in biofilms along the pCO2 gradient is a reassuring indicator of stability of their ecosystem functions in shallow ocean margins.

Continue reading ‘Responses of intertidal bacterial biofilm communities to increasing pCO2’

Patterns in microbiome composition differ with ocean acidification in anatomic compartments of the Mediterranean coral Astroides calycularis living at CO2 vents


• Coral microbiomes contribute to host acclimatization to environmental change.

• Natural CO2 gradients are a model of global change-induced ocean acidification.

• Non-symbiotic coral Astroides calycularis survives in a natural acidified site.

• Calycularis mucus microbiome is the most affected by low pH conditions.

• Low pH conditions induce changes in microbiome supporting nitrogen cycling.


Coral microbiomes, the complex microbial communities associated with the different anatomic compartments of the coral, provide important functions for the host’s survival, such as nutrient cycling at the host’s surface, prevention of pathogens colonization, and promotion of nutrient uptake. Microbiomes are generally referred to as plastic entities, able to adapt their composition and functionality in response to environmental change, with a possible impact on coral acclimatization to phenomena related to climate change, such as ocean acidification. Ocean sites characterized by natural gradients of pCO2 provide models for investigating the ability of marine organisms to acclimatize to decreasing seawater pH. Here we compared the microbiome of the temperate, shallow water, non-symbiotic solitary coral Astroides calycularis that naturally lives at a volcanic CO2 vent in Ischia Island (Naples, Italy), with that of corals living in non-acidified sites at the same island. Bacterial DNA associated with the different anatomic compartments (mucus, tissue and skeleton) of A. calycularis was differentially extracted and a total of 68 samples were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. In terms of phylogenetic composition, the microbiomes associated with the different coral anatomic compartments were different from each other and from the microbial communities of the surrounding seawater. Of all the anatomic compartments, the mucus-associated microbiome differed the most between the control and acidified sites. The differences detected in the microbial communities associated to the three anatomic compartments included a general increase in subdominant bacterial groups, some of which are known to be involved in different stages of the nitrogen cycle, such as potential nitrogen fixing bacteria and bacteria able to degrade organic nitrogen. Our data therefore suggests a potential increase of nitrogen fixation and recycling in A. calycularis living close to the CO2 vent system.

Continue reading ‘Patterns in microbiome composition differ with ocean acidification in anatomic compartments of the Mediterranean coral Astroides calycularis living at CO2 vents’

Corals exhibit distinct patterns of microbial reorganisation to thrive in an extreme inshore environment

Climate change threatens the survival of scleractinian coral from exposure to concurrent ocean warming, acidification and deoxygenation; how corals can potentially adapt to this trio of stressors is currently unknown. This study investigates three coral species (Acropora muricata, Acropora pulchra and Porites lutea) dominant in an extreme mangrove lagoon (Bouraké, New Caledonia) where abiotic conditions exceed those predicted for many reef sites over the next 100 years under climate change and compared them to conspecifics from an environmentally more benign reef habitat. We studied holobiont physiology as well as plasticity in coral-associated microorganisms (Symbiodiniaceae and bacteria) through ITS2 and 16S rRNA sequencing, respectively. We hypothesised that differences in coral-associated microorganisms (Symbiodiniaceae and bacteria) between the lagoonal and adjacent reef habitats may support coral host productivity and ultimately the ability of corals to live in extreme environments. In the lagoon, all coral species exhibited a metabolic adjustment of reduced photosynthesis-to-respiration ratios (P/R), but this was accompanied by highly divergent coral host-specific microbial associations. This was substantiated by the absence of shared ITS2-type profiles (proxies for Symbiodiniaceae genotypes). We observed that ITS2 profiles originating from Durusdinium taxa made up < 3% and a novel Symbiodinium ITS2 profile A1-A1v associated with A. pulchra. Bacterial community profiles were also highly divergent in corals from the lagoonal environment, whereas corals from the reef site were consistently dominated by Hahellaceae, Endozoicomonas. As such, differences in host–microorganism associations aligned with different physiologies and habitats. Our results argue that a multitude of host–microorganism associations are required to fulfill the changing nutritional demands of corals persisting into environments that parallel climate change scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Corals exhibit distinct patterns of microbial reorganisation to thrive in an extreme inshore environment’

Transcriptome analysis of the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans in acidic stress environments

Ocean acidification and acid rain, caused by modern industrial fossil fuels burning, lead to decrease of living environmental pH, which results in a series of negative effects on many organisms. However, the underlying mechanisms of animals’response to acidic pH stress are largely unknown. In this study, we used the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as an animal model to explore the regulatory mechanisms of organisms’response to pH decline. Two major stress-responsive pathways were found through transcriptome analysis in acidic stress environments. Firstly, when the pH dropped from 6.33 to 4.33, the worms responded to the pH stress by up-regulation of the col, nas and dpy genes, which are required for cuticle synthesis and structure integrity. Secondly, when the pH continued to decrease from 4.33, the metabolism of xenobiotics by cytochrome P450 pathway genes (cyp, gst, ugt, and ABC transporters) played a major role in protecting the nematodes from the toxic substances probably produced by the more acidic environment. At the same time, cuticle synthesis slowed down might due to its insufficient protective ability. Moreover, the systematic regulation pattern we found in nematodes, might also be applied to other invertebrate and vertebrate animals to survive in the changing pH environments. Thus, our data might lay the foundation to identify the master gene(s) responding and adaptation to acidic pH stress in further studies, and might also provide new solutions to improve assessment and monitoring of ecological restoration outcomes, or generate novel genotypes via genome editing for restoring in challenging environments especially in the context of acidic stress through global climate change.

Continue reading ‘Transcriptome analysis of the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans in acidic stress environments’

Monitoring nearshore ecosystem health using Pacific razor clams (Siliqua patula) as an indicator species

An emerging approach to ecosystem monitoring involves the use of physiological biomarker analyses in combination with gene transcription assays. For the first time, we employed these tools to evaluate the Pacific razor clam (Siliqua patula), which is important both economically and ecologically, as a bioindicator species in the northeast Pacific. Our objectives were to (1) develop biomarker and gene transcription assays with which to monitor the health of the Pacific razor clam, (2) acquire baseline biomarker and gene transcription reference ranges for razor clams, (3) assess the relationship between physiological and gene transcription assays and (4) determine if site-level differences were present. Pacific razor clams were collected in July 2015 and 2016 at three sites within each of two national parks in southcentral Alaska. In addition to determining reference ranges, we found differences in biomarker assay and gene transcription results between parks and sites which indicate variation in both large-scale and local environmental conditions. Our intent is to employ these methods to evaluate Pacific razor clams as a bioindicator of nearshore ecosystem health. Links between the results of the biomarker and gene transcription assays were observed that support the applicability of both assays in ecosystem monitoring. However, we recognize the need for controlled studies to examine the range of responses in physiology and gene transcripts to different stressors.

Continue reading ‘Monitoring nearshore ecosystem health using Pacific razor clams (Siliqua patula) as an indicator species’

Elevated pCO2 level affects the extracellular polymer metabolism of Phaeodactylum tricornutum

Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) play an important role in diatom physiology and carbon biogeochemical cycling in marine ecosystems. Both the composition and yield of EPS in diatom cells can vary with environmental changes. However, information on intracellular pathways and controls of both biochemical and genetic of EPS is limited. Further, how such changes would affect their critical ecological roles in marine systems is also unclear. Here, we evaluated the physiological characteristics, EPS yields, EPS compositions, and gene expression levels of Phaeodactylum tricornutum under elevated pCO2 levels. Genes and pathways related to EPS metabolism in P. tricornutum were identified. Carbohydrate yields in different EPS fractions increased with elevated pCO2 exposure. Although the proportions of monosaccharide sugars among total sugars did not change, higher abundances of uronic acid were observed under high pCO2 conditions, suggesting the alterations of EPS composition. Elevated pCO2 increased PSII light energy conversion efficiency and carbon sequestration efficiency. The up-regulation of most genes involved in carbon fixation pathways led to increased growth and EPS release. RNA-Seq analysis revealed a number of genes and divergent alleles related to EPS production that were up-regulated by elevated pCO2 levels. Nucleotide diphosphate (NDP)-sugar activation and accelerated glycosylation could be responsible for more EPS responding to environmental signals. Further, NDP-sugar transporters exhibited increased expression levels, suggesting roles in EPS over-production. Overall, these results provide critical data for understanding the mechanisms of EPS production in diatoms and evaluating the metabolic plasticity of these organisms in response to environmental changes.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 level affects the extracellular polymer metabolism of Phaeodactylum tricornutum’

Effects of water acidification on Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis health status and metabolic rate: implications for immune responses and energy use

Increasing water CO2, aquatic hypercapnia, leads to higher physiological pCO2 levels in fish, resulting in an acidosis and compensatory acid-base regulatory response. Senegalese sole is currently farmed in super-intensive recirculating water systems where significant accumulation of CO2 in the water may occur. Moreover, anthropogenic releases of CO2 into the atmosphere are linked to ocean acidification. The present study was designed to assess the effects of acute (4 and 24 h) and prolonged exposure (4 weeks) to CO2 driven acidification (i.e., pH 7.9, 7.6, and 7.3) from normocapnic seawater (pH 8.1) on the innate immune status, gill acid-base ion transporter expression and metabolic rate of juvenile Senegalese sole. The acute exposure to severe hypercapnia clearly affected gill physiology as observed by an increase of NHE3b positive ionocytes and a decrease of cell shape factor. Nonetheless only small physiological adjustments were observed at the systemic level with (1) a modulation of both plasma and skin humoral parameters and (2) an increased expression of HIF-1 expression pointing to an adjustment to the acidic environment even after a short period (i.e., hours). On the other hand, upon prolonged exposure, the expression of several pro-inflammatory and stress related genes was amplified and gill cell shape factor was aggravated with the continued increase of NHE3b positive ionocytes, ultimately impacting fish growth. While these findings indicate limited effects on energy use, deteriorating immune system conditions suggest that Senegalese sole is vulnerable to changes in CO2 and may be affected in aquaculture where a pH drop is more prominent. Further studies are required to investigate how larval and adult Senegalese sole are affected by changes in CO2.

Continue reading ‘Effects of water acidification on Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis health status and metabolic rate: implications for immune responses and energy use’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book