Posts Tagged 'morphology'

Response of the green alga Ulva prolifera grown at different irradiance levels under ocean acidification at different life cycle stages

The effects of ocean acidification on macroalgae have been extensively studied. However, most studies focused on the adult stages, while other life cycle stages have been overlooked. To better understand the influence of the marine environment on macroalgae, their whole life cycle should be considered, especially the juvenile stage. In this study, Ulva prolifera was cultured under two CO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 ppmv) and at 10, 18, 30, and 55% of incident sunlight to assess the photosynthetic performance. Our results showed that the acidification treatment had a negative effect on growth at the juvenile stage, but a positive effect at the adult stage. The relative growth rate and effective quantum yield of PSII increased with decreased light levels, irrespective of the CO2 concentration. At the adult stage, the Chlorophyll (Chl) a, Chl b, and carotenoid contents declined under the high CO2 concentration. The protein content significantly increased at 18, 30%, and full sunlight levels under the high CO2 but not under the low CO2 concentration. Our results suggest that juveniles were less tolerant of the acidic stress compared with the adult stage, although the alga was able to increase cellular proteins in response to the acidic stress.

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Phenotypic plasticity in economically and ecologically important bivalves in response to changing environments

Marine bivalves are ecologically important, providing ecosystem services like filtering water, stabilizing substrate, and creating hard structure for epibionts. Cultured bivalves are also economically important, supporting thousands of aquaculture jobs nationwide and providing valuable protein sources for our growing human population. However, recent shifts in the environment such as temperature, ocean acidification, hypoxia, and extreme environmental variation have greatly affected bivalve physiology, reproduction, and survival across multiple lifestages. Bivalves in the Northeast Pacific are increasingly vulnerable climate change related stressors like intensifying upwelling and weather extremes, defined stratification, and unique geography which causes distinct spatial and seasonal variation. I seek to investigate if higher degrees of phenotypic plasticity and parental carryover will have the potential to improve bivalve’s fitness and tolerance as climate change progresses. My goal is to evaluate plastic capacity by taking a multi-method approach to assessing the physiological metrics of several important bivalve species, using both field and laboratory experiments. Early lifestages are greatly influenced by parental environmental history leading to carryover effects, favoring phenotypes that have a higher likelihood of surviving. In addition to natural selection in the wild, commercial and restoration aquaculturists may select for beneficial phenotypes in adults and offspring which would yield the most desirable characteristics. In our experiment, I focus on three different species: the purple-hinge rock scallop Crassadoma gigantea, the Mediterranean mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis, and the Olympia oyster Ostrea lurida. By choosing a suite of native and non-native, inter- and subtidal species, I hope to obtain a broad snapshot of physiological responses to help restore vulnerable species and maximize quality of farmed product. Chapter 1 examines physiological responses of the scallop C. gigantea to climate change related stressors in the laboratory. I conducted a full factorial laboratory experiment, manipulating pCO2 and temperature to mimic current and future ocean acidification and warming levels. After six weeks of acclimation, I found that stressors reduced shell strength and periostracum (outer shell layer) density. Only acidification affected lipids, and fatty acid content varied between treatments. I was the first to quantify microbial composition of a bivalve under multiple stressors and I found differences in the microbiome, especially with temperature stress. Chapter 2 explores physiological responses of C. gigantea and M. galloprovincialis in a six-month field acclimatation experiment. Shellfish were deployed in cages in Puget Sound, Washington at either 5 or 30 m below the surface. I found that environmental gradients varied seasonally and spatially and affected growth, shell strength, and isotopic signatures. There were differences between the two species, namely with shell strength and δ13C. I found that no one depth or time period yielded the most desirable traits for culturing, and I highlight the concerning patterns in Puget Sound’s most productive region. In Chapter 3, I took my research one step further by introducing a spatial component to a one-year field experiment. I outplanted O. lurida in cages at 5 m depth in three different locations in Puget Sound, one of which also had a 20 m depth. Each of these locations had an oceanographic monitoring buoy which allowed me to couple physiological data with high-resolution environmental data. I spawned the oysters to test parental carryover and found evidence in growth rates of larvae, which when acclimated to high temperatures, mirrored their parents. Interestingly, larval survival did not coincide with growth, and through respirometry, I found that 20°C may be a bottleneck for this lifestage. Adult oyster growth, isotopic signatures, and gametogenesis were affected by both seasonal and spatial field conditions. Metabolic responses to pH and temperature depending on recent acclimatization history. This research shows evidence of strong adaptive plasticity which was demonstrated by energetic trade-offs and parental carryover. Chapter 4 acclimatized M. galloprovincialis in the field in a similar fashion to O. lurida. Growth, shell strength, and isotopes were all affected by season and site. Similar to oysters, acute metabolic rate of each site and season was affected differently between pH and temperature. Shellfish covered in Chapter 3/4 have a high degree of plasticity and results are useful to restoration (oyster) and commercial (mussel) aquaculturists to create selective breeding programs that will withstand climate change. Results of this dissertation demonstrate the rapid degree of phenotypic plasticity and capacity for parental carryover in field and laboratory setting though a wide array of physiological analysis. Outcomes of this research add to the limited but growing body of literature about multiple-stressors and field experiments, and indents to assist aquaculturists as climate change progresses.

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Proton gradients across the coral calcifying cell layer: effects of light, ocean acidification and carbonate chemistry

In corals, pH regulation of the extracellular calcifying medium (ECM) by the calcifying cell layer is a crucial step in the calcification process and is potentially important to influencing how corals respond to ocean acidification. Here, we analyzed the growing edge of the reef coral Stylophora pistillata to make the first characterization of the proton gradient across the coral calcifying epithelium. At seawater pH 8 we found that while the calcifying epithelium elevates pH in the ECM on its apical side above that of seawater, pH on its basal side in the mesoglea is markedly lower, highlighting that the calcifying cells are exposed to a microenvironment distinct from the external environment. Coral symbiont photosynthesis elevates pH in the mesoglea, but experimental ocean acidification and decreased seawater inorganic carbon concentration lead to large declines in mesoglea pH relative to the ECM, which is maintained relatively stable. Together, our results indicate that the coral calcifying epithelium is functionally polarized and that environmental variation impacts pHECM regulation through its effects on the basal side of the calcifying cells.

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Impact of ocean acidification on the physiology of digestive gland of razor clams Sinonovacula constricta

Ocean acidification (OA) can have widespread implications for marine bivalves. While our current understanding of OA effects on the physiological performance is increasing, very little is known about the physiology of digestive gland of marine bivalves in response to OA. Here, we examined how the digestive system of razor clams (Sinonovacula constricta) responded to OA. Following 35-day exposure to CO2-driven seawater acidification, no significant decreases in phenotypic traits, such as dry body weight gain, specific growth rate, condition index and survival rate, as well physiological functions, such as activities of antioxidant and digestive enzymes, were observed, demonstrating the resistance of razor clams under acidified conditions. Histological results showed that some direct damages on the structure of digestive gland was observed, including degradation of digestive tubular, atrophy of epithelial cells, loose cell arrangement, even diffuse. This study provides insights into the digestive performance of marine bivalves in a rapidly acidifying ocean.

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The influences of diurnal variability and ocean acidification on the bioerosion rates of two reef-dwelling Caribbean sponges

Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to modify the structure and function of coral reef ecosystems by reducing calcification, increasing bioerosion, and altering the physiology of many marine organisms. Much of our understanding of these relationships is based upon experiments with static OA treatments, though evidence suggests that the magnitude of diurnal fluctuations in carbonate chemistry may modulate the calcification response to OA. These light-mediated swings in seawater pH are projected to become more extreme with OA, yet their impact on bioerosion remains unknown. We evaluated the influence of diurnal carbonate chemistry variability on the bioerosion rates of two Caribbean sponges: the zooxanthellate Cliona varians and azooxanthellate Cliothosa delitrix. Replicate fragments from multiple colonies of each species were exposed to four precisely-controlled pH treatments: contemporary static (8.05 ± 0.00; mean pH ± diurnal pH oscillation), contemporary variable (8.05 ± 0.10), future OA static (7.80 ± 0.00), and future OA variable (7.80 ± 0.10). Significantly enhanced bioerosion rates, determined using buoyant weight measurements, were observed under more variable conditions in both the contemporary and future OA scenarios for C. varians, whereas the same effect was only apparent under contemporary pH conditions for C. delitrix. These results indicate that variable carbonate chemistry has a stimulating influence on sponge bioerosion, and we hypothesize that bioerosion rates evolve non-linearly as a function of pCO2 resulting in different magnitudes and directions of rate enhancement/reduction between day and night, even with an equal fluctuation around the mean. This response appeared to be intensified by photosymbionts, evident by the consistently higher percent increase in bioerosion rates for photosynthetic C. varians across all treatments. These findings further suggest that more variable natural ecosystems may presently experience elevated sponge bioerosion rates and that the heightened impact of OA enhanced bioerosion on reef habitat could occur sooner than prior predictions.

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The effects of alkalinity on production performance and biochemical responses of spiny lobster Panulirus homarus reared in recirculating aquaculture system

Spiny lobsters (Panulirus sp.) were valuable and one of the most popular Indonesian export commodities. Some approaches were made to increase the quantity and quality of cultivated spiny lobsters. Land-based mariculture with Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) was applied to increase lobster harvesting and optimize environmental quality by adjusting water alkalinity. This study aimed to determine the optimum level of alkalinity for spiny lobsters Panulirus homarus rearing in RAS. This study investigated the effects of applying four water alkalinity levels (Control, 125, 200, and 275 mg L-1 CaCO3) on the biochemical responses of P. homarus observed in the hemolymph in terms of Total Hemocyte Count (THC), glucose, total protein, calcium, and pH levels.

Furthermore, we also studied the alkalinity effects on lobster production performance parameters in terms of body weight gain, body length, Survival Rate (SR), Specific Growth Rate (SGR), and Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR). Lobsters with an initial weight rate of 58.05±1.69 g and an initial total length rate of 115.33±1.52 mm were reared for 60 days in a recirculation system. Results of water quality parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity during the study were available for lobster rearing. Different alkalinity levels affected the biochemical responses and production performance of lobsters. The best alkalinity level to reared Panulirus sp. in the recirculation system during this study was 200 mg L-1 CaCO3 so that it could achieve the highest survival rate of 86.67% with SGR 0.60±0.01 % day-1.

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Acidification and high-temperature impacts on energetics and shell production of the edible clam Ameghinomya antiqua

Warming and ocean acidification are currently critical global change drivers for marine ecosystems due to their complex and irreversible effects on the ecology and evolution of marine communities. Changes in the chemistry and the temperature of the ocean impact the biological performance of marine resources by affecting their energy budget and thus imposing energetic restrictions and trade-offs on their survival, growth, and reproduction. In this study, we evaluated the interplaying effects of increased pCO2 levels and temperature on the economically relevant clam Ameghinomya antiqua, an infaunal bivalve inhabiting a wide distributional range along the coast of Chile. Juvenile clams collected from southern Chile were exposed to a 90-day experimental set-up emulating the current and a future scenario projeced to the end of the current century for both high pCO2/low-pH and temperature (10 and 15°C) projected for the Chilean coast. Clams showed physiological plasticity to different projected environmental scenarios without mortality. In addition, our results showed that the specimens under low-pH conditions were not able to meet the energetic requirements when increased temperature imposed high maintenance costs, consequently showing metabolic depression. Indeed, although the calcification rate was negative in the high-pCO2 scenario, it was the temperature that determined the amount of shell loss. These results indicate that the studied clam can face environmental changes for short-term periods modifying energetic allocation on maintenance and growth processes, but with possible long-term population costs, endangering the sustainability of an important benthic artisanal fisheries resource.

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Responses of early life stages of European abalone (Haliotis tuberculata) to ocean acidification after parental conditioning: Insights from a transgenerational experiment


  • Abalone has experienced severe population decline worldwide due to overfishing, disease and climate change.
  • OA effects were evaluated on reproduction and early life stages of H. tuberculata through a transgenerational experiment.
  • No carry-over effects were observed on abalone offspring following parental exposure to OA.
  • Larval and juvenile fitness were affected by a pH decrease of 0.3 unit.
  • Species dispersion and survival may be compromised in the near future, with potential negative consequences for European abalone populations.


CO2 absorption is leading to ocean acidification (OA), which is a matter of major concern for marine calcifying species. This study investigated the effects of simulated OA on the reproduction of European abalone Haliotis tuberculata and the survival of its offspring. Four-year-old abalone were exposed during reproductive season to two relevant OA scenarios, ambient pH (8.0) and low pH (7.7). After five months of exposure, abalone were induced to spawn. The gametes, larvae and juveniles were then exposed for five months to the same pH conditions as their parents. Several biological parameters involved in adult reproduction as well as in larval, post-larval and juvenile fitness were measured. No effects on gametes, fertilisation or larval oxidative stress response were detected. However, developmental abnormalities and significant decreases in shell length and calcification were observed at veliger stages. The expression profile of a GABA A receptor-like gene appeared to be regulated by pH, depending on larval stage. Larval and post-larval survival was not affected by low pH. However, a lower survival and a reduction of growth were recorded in juveniles at pH 7.7. Our results confirm that OA negatively impacts larval and juvenile fitness and suggest the absence of carry-over effects on abalone offspring. This may compromise the survival of abalone populations in the near future.

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Cold-water coral ecosystems under future ocean change: live coral performance vs. framework dissolution and bioerosion

Physiological sensitivity of cold-water corals to ocean change is far less understood than of tropical corals and very little is known about the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on degradative processes of dead coral framework. In a 13-month laboratory experiment, we examined the interactive effects of gradually increasing temperature and pCO2 levels on survival, growth, and respiration of two prominent color morphotypes (colormorphs) of the framework-forming cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa, as well as bioerosion and dissolution of dead framework. Calcification rates tended to increase with warming, showing temperature optima at ~ 14°C (white colormorph) and 10–12°C (orange colormorph) and decreased with increasing pCO2. Net dissolution occurred at aragonite undersaturation (ΩAr < 1) at ~ 1000 μatm pCO2. Under combined warming and acidification, the negative effects of acidification on growth were initially mitigated, but at ~ 1600 μatm dissolution prevailed. Respiration rates increased with warming, more strongly in orange corals, while acidification slightly suppressed respiration. Calcification and respiration rates as well as polyp mortality were consistently higher in orange corals. Mortality increased considerably at 14–15°C in both colormorphs. Bioerosion/dissolution of dead framework was not affected by warming alone but was significantly enhanced by acidification. While live corals may cope with intermediate levels of elevated pCO2 and temperature, long-term impacts beyond levels projected for the end of this century will likely lead to skeletal dissolution and increased mortality. Our findings further suggest that acidification causes accelerated degradation of dead framework even at aragonite saturated conditions, which will eventually compromise the structural integrity of cold-water coral reefs.

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Light history modulates growth and photosynthetic responses of a diatom to ocean acidification and UV radiation

To examine the synergetic effects of ocean acidification (OA) and light intensity on the photosynthetic performance of marine diatoms, the marine centric diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii was cultured under ambient low CO2 (LC, 390 μatm) and elevated high CO2 (HC, 1000 μatm) levels under low-light (LL, 60 μmol m−2 s−1) or high-light (HL, 220 μmol m−2 s−1) conditions for over 20 generations. HL stimulated the growth rate by 128 and 99% but decreased cell size by 9 and 7% under LC and HC conditions, respectively. However, HC did not change the growth rate under LL but decreased it by 9% under HL. LL combined with HC decreased both maximum quantum yield (FV/FM) and effective quantum yield (ΦPSII), measured under either low or high actinic light. When exposed to UV radiation (UVR), LL-grown cells were more prone to UVA exposure, with higher UVA and UVR inducing inhibition of ΦPSII compared with HL-grown cells. Light use efficiency (α) and maximum relative electron transport rate (rETRmax) were inhibited more in the HC-grown cells when UVR (UVA and UVB) was present, particularly under LL. Our results indicate that the growth light history influences the cell growth and photosynthetic responses to OA and UVR.

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Saving Nemo: extinction risk, conservation status, and effective management strategies for anemonefishes

Anemonefishes share a number of life history and ecological traits, and some unfortunate links to human-induced stress, that expose some of the 28 species to the risk of extinction. The biodiversity hotspot for anemonefishes extends across Southeast Asia to the western Pacific, including many countries where there are high levels of human impact and few effective management strategies. Anemonefish biodiversity is threatened by anemone bleaching, direct effects of ocean warming and acidification, collection for the aquarium trade, and coastal development. These risks are exacerbated by extreme habitat specialization, the mutual anemonefish–anemone relationship, low abundance, low population connectivity, small geographic ranges, and shallow depth ranges. Many species exhibit two or three of these traits, with small range species often associated with fewer anemone hosts and narrower depth ranges, exposing them to double or triple jeopardy. While all species have not been assessed by the IUCN, our detailed analysis of area of occupancy indicates that three species are extremely close to the threshold for being classified as Critically Endangered. Marine reserves have been effective in protecting species from exploitation and helping sustain marginal populations across generations, but effective population sizes are often very small and recovery can be slow. Additional management efforts need to focus on sustainable collecting practices and the protection and restoration of critical anemone habitats.

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Gregarious larval settlement mediates the responses of new recruits of the reef coral Acropora austera to ocean warming and acidification

Gregarious larval settlement represents an important window for chimera formation in reef corals, yet it remains largely unknown how aggregated settlement and early chimerism could modify the performance and responses of coral recruits under elevated temperature and pCO2. In this study, single and aggregated recruits of the broadcast spawning coral Acropora austera were exposed to contrasts of two temperatures (28 versus 30.5°C) and pCO2 levels (~500 versus 1000 μatm) for two weeks, and algal symbiont infection success, survivorship and growth were assessed. Results showed that symbiont infection success was mainly affected by temperature and recruit type, with reduced symbiont infection at increased temperature and consistently higher infection success in chimeric recruits compared to single recruits. Furthermore, although chimeric recruits with larger areal size had significantly higher survivorship in all treatments, the polyp-specific growth rates were considerably lower in chimeric entities than individual recruits. More importantly, the recruit type significantly influenced the responses of recruit polyp-specific growth rates to elevated temperature, with chimeras exhibiting lowered skeletal lateral growth under elevated temperature. These results demonstrate the benefits and costs associated with gregarious larval settlement for juvenile corals under ocean warming and acidification, and highlight the ecological role of larval settlement behavior in mediating the responses of coral recruits to climate change stressors.

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Global change differentially modulates Caribbean coral physiology

Global change driven by anthropogenic carbon emissions is altering ecosystems at unprecedented rates, especially coral reefs, whose symbiosis with algal symbionts is particularly vulnerable to increasing ocean temperatures and altered carbonate chemistry. Here, we assess the physiological responses of three Caribbean coral (animal host + algal symbiont) species from an inshore and offshore reef environment after exposure to simulated ocean warming (28, 31°C), acidification (300–3290 μatm), and the combination of stressors for 93 days. We used multidimensional analyses to assess how a variety of coral physiological parameters respond to ocean acidification and warming. Our results demonstrate reductions in coral health in Siderastrea siderea and Porites astreoides in response to projected ocean acidification, while future warming elicited severe declines in Pseudodiploria strigosa. Offshore Ssiderea fragments exhibited higher physiological plasticity than inshore counterparts, suggesting that this offshore population was more susceptible to changing conditions. There were no plasticity differences in Pstrigosa and Pastreoides between natal reef environments, however, temperature evoked stronger responses in both species. Interestingly, while each species exhibited unique physiological responses to ocean acidification and warming, when data from all three species are modelled together, convergent stress responses to these conditions are observed, highlighting the overall sensitivities of tropical corals to these stressors. Our results demonstrate that while ocean warming is a severe acute stressor that will have dire consequences for coral reefs globally, chronic exposure to acidification may also impact coral physiology to a greater extent in some species than previously assumed. Further, our study identifies Ssiderea and Pastreoides as potential ‘winners’ on future Caribbean coral reefs due to their resilience under projected global change stressors, while Pstrigosa will likely be a ‘loser’ due to their sensitivity to thermal stress events. Together, these species-specific responses to global change we observe will likely manifest in altered Caribbean reef assemblages in the future.

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A transcriptomic analysis of phenotypic plasticity in Crassostrea virginica larvae under experimental acidification

Graphical abstract

Ocean acidification (OA) is a major threat to marine calcifiers, and little is known regarding acclimation to OA in bivalves. This study combined physiological assays with next-generation sequencing to assess the potential for recovery from and acclimation to OA in the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and identify molecular mechanisms associated with resilience. In a reciprocal transplant experiment, larvae transplanted from elevated pCO(~1400 ppm) to ambient pCO2 (~350 ppm) demonstrated significantly lower mortality and larger size post-transplant than oysters remaining under elevated pCO2 and had similar mortality compared to those remaining in ambient conditions. The recovery after transplantation to ambient conditions demonstrates the ability for larvae to rebound and suggests phenotypic plasticity and acclimation. Transcriptomic analysis supported this hypothesis as genes were differentially regulated under OA stress. Transcriptomic profiles of transplanted and non-transplanted larvae terminating in the same final pCO2 converged, further supporting the idea that acclimation underlies resilience. The functions of differentially expressed genes included cell differentiation, development, biomineralization, ion exchange, and immunity. Results suggest acclimation as a mode of resilience to OA. In addition, the identification of genes associated with resilience can serve as a valuable resource for the aquaculture industry, as these could enable marker-assisted selection of OA-resilient stocks.

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Calcification of planktonic foraminifer Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (sinistral) controlled by seawater temperature rather than ocean acidification in the Antarctic Zone of modern Southern Ocean

Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (sinistral), the dominant planktonic foraminiferal species in the mid-to-high latitude oceans, represents a major component of local calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production. However, the predominant factors, governing the calcification of this species and its potential response to the future marine environmental changes, are poorly understood. The present study utilized an improved cleaning method for the size-normalized weight (SNW) measurement to estimate the SNW of N. pachyderma (sin.) in surface sediments from the Amundsen Sea, the Ross Sea, and the Prydz Bay in the Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean. It was found that SNW of N. pachyderma (sin.) is not controlled by deep-water carbonate dissolution post-mortem, and can be therefore, used to reflect the degree of calcification. The comparison between N. pachyderma (sin.) SNW and environmental parameters (temperature, salinity, nutrient concentration, and carbonate system) in the calcification depth revealed that N. pachyderma (sin.) SNWs in the size ranges of 200–250, 250–300, and 300–355 µm are significantly and positively correlated with seawater temperature. Moreover, SNW would increase by ∼30% per degree increase in temperature, thereby suggesting that the calcification of N. pachyderma (sin.) in the modern Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean is mainly controlled by temperature, rather than by other environmental parameters such as ocean acidification. Importantly, a potential increase in calcification of N. pachyderma (sin.) in the Antarctic Zone to produce CaCO3 will release CO2 into the atmosphere. In turn, the future ocean warming will weaken the ocean carbon sink, thereby generating positive feedback for global warming.

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Acidification of seawater attenuates the allelopathic effects of Ulva pertusa on Karenia mikimotoi

Acidification of seawater resulting from absorption of excessive carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is posing a serious threat to marine ecosystem. In this study, we hypothesized that acidified seawater attenuates allelopathic effects of macroalgae on red tide algae because the increase of dissolved carbon dioxide benefits algal growth, and investigated the allelopathic effects of Ulva pertusa on Karenia mikimotoi in response to seawater acidification by determining cell density, photosynthetic pigment content, chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, and chloroplast structure of K. mikimotoi under U. pertusa stress in original (pH=8.2) and acidified (pH=7.8) seawater. U. pertusa inhibited the growth of K. mikimotoi in the original and acidizing seawater, and the inhibition rate was positively correlated with treatment time and concentration of U. pertusa. However, acidizing condition significantly weakened the inhibition degree of U. pertusa on K. mikimotoi (P < 0.05), with the inhibition rates decreased from 51.85 to 43.16% at 10 gFW/L U. pertusa for 96 h. U. pertusa reduced contents of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll c, and carotenoid, maximum photochemical quantum yield (Fv/Fm), actual quantum yield, maximum relative electron transfer efficiency (rETRmax) of PSII, real-time fluorescence value (F), and maximum fluorescence value (Fm′) of PSII of K. mikimotoi under original and acidified conditions. And, the inhibition degree of U. pertusa under acidizing condition was significantly lower than that of original seawater group. Furthermore, the damage degree of chloroplast structure of K. mikimotoi under U. pertusa stress was more serious under original seawater condition. These results indicate that acidification of seawater attenuates the allelopathic effects of U. pertusa on K. mikimotoi.

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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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Nutritional response of a coccolithophore to changing pH and temperature

Coccolithophores are a calcifying unicellular phytoplankton group that are at the base of the marine food web, and their lipid content provides a source of energy to consumers. Coccolithophores are vulnerable to ocean acidification and warming, therefore it is critical to establish the effects of climate change on these significant marine primary producers, and determine potential consequences that these changes can have on their consumers. Here, we quantified the impact of changes in pH and temperature on the nutritional condition (lipid content, particulate organic carbon/nitrogen), growth rate, and morphology of the most abundant living coccolithophore species, Emiliania huxleyi. We used a regression type approach with nine pH levels (ranging from 7.66 to 8.44) and two temperatures (15°C and 20°C). Lipid production was greater under reduced pH, and growth rates were distinctly lower at 15°C than at 20°C. The production potential of lipids, which estimates the availability of lipids to consumers, increased under 20°C, but decreased under low pH. The results indicate that, while consumers will benefit energetically under ocean warming, this benefit will be mitigated by ocean acidification. The carbon to nitrogen ratio was higher at 20°C and low pH, indicating that the nutritional quality of coccolithophores for consumers will decline under climate change. The impact of low pH on the structural integrity of the coccosphere may also mean that coccolithophores are easier to digest for consumers. Many responses suggest cellular stress, indicating that increases in temperature and reductions in pH may have a negative impact on the ecophysiology of coccolithophores.

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Acclimation traits determine the macromolecular basis of harmful dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum in response to changing climate conditions


  • Combined temperature and pCO2 elevation, were investigated at a different transitional period of A. minutum for its acclimation.
  • This is the first study to consider depicting conditions of ocean warming and acidification on the element storage and related functional processes modification in A. minutum.
  • Combined temperature and pCO2 elevation induced luxurious nitrogen and phosphate contents during the acclimation process.
  • Both nitrogen and phosphate molecules have unique functions to promote efficient growth and proliferation of A. minutum in the future ocean conditions.


Ocean warming and acidification are expected to have profound impacts on the marine ecosystem, although the dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum is reported to be acclimated to such conditions. However, it is unknown on the transition time scale how this species physiologically adjusts their element accumulation and associated resource allocation for this process. We designed a set of experiments to examine how different culture generations (1st, 5th, and 10th) change their cell physiology, cellular quotas and macromolecular cellular contents related to functional processes in A. minutum grown with future (pCO2, 1000 ppm; 25°C) and present (pCO2, 400 ppm; 21°C) ocean conditions. The differing cell sizes and storage capacity at different generations confirmed that compared to ancestors (1st generation), acclimation cells (10th generation) gained increases in quota carbon (QC; 55%; [p < 0.05]) and quota phosphate (QP; 23% [ p < 0.05]). This variation in C:P and N:P influences was transition-specific and largely determined by phosphate-based molecules. It was observed that A. minutum was initially dependent on P molecules, which help cells act as alternative lipids for quick acclimation until N molecules resume carbon-based lipids for their long-term acclimation. Our study demonstrated that rising temperature and pCO2 concentrations in ocean may increase A. minutum based on the comprehensive analysis of different physiological modifications, including its growth, element accumulation, transformation, and functional allocation.

Continue reading ‘Acclimation traits determine the macromolecular basis of harmful dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum in response to changing climate conditions’

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.

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

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