Posts Tagged 'multiple factors'

Ocean acidification buffers the physiological responses of the king ragworm Alitta virens to the common pollutant copper


• Whilst ocean acidification (OA) often increases the toxicity of copper to marine invertebrates, here we find the opposite in the ragworm Alitta virens.

• There was no increase in copper-induced DNA damage or lipid peroxidation under OA conditions.

• Instead OA appeared to buffer the effects of copper on lipid peroxidation and acid-base disturbance, reducing these effects relative to ambient seawater conditions.


Ocean acidification (OA) has the potential to alter the bioavailability of pH sensitive metals contaminating coastal sediments, particularly copper, by changing their speciation in seawater. Hence OA may drive increased toxicity of these metals to coastal biota. Here, we demonstrate complex interactions between OA and copper on the physiology and toxicity responses of the sediment dwelling polychaete Alitta virens. Worm coelomic fluid pCO2 was not increased by exposure to OA conditions (pHNBS 7.77, pCO2 530 μatm) for 14 days, suggesting either physiological or behavioural responses to control coelomic fluid pCO2. Exposure to 0.25 µM nominal copper caused a decrease in coelomic fluid pCO2 by 43.3% and bicarbonate ions by 44.6% but paradoxically this copper-induced effect was reduced under near-future OA conditions. Hence OA appeared to ‘buffer’ the copper-induced acid-base disturbance. DNA damage was significantly increased in worms exposed to copper under ambient pCO2 conditions, rising by 11.1% compared to the worms in the no copper control, but there was no effect of OA conditions on the level of DNA damage induced by copper when exposed in combination. These interactions differ from the increased copper toxicity under OA conditions reported for several other invertebrate species. Hence this new evidence adds to the developing paradigm that species’ physiology is key in determining the interactions of these two stressors rather than it purely being driven by the changes in metal chemistry under lower seawater pH.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification buffers the physiological responses of the king ragworm Alitta virens to the common pollutant copper’

Stress responses in Crassostrea gasar exposed to combined effects of acute pH changes and phenanthrene


• Acidification is capable to unbalance transcription of biotransformation genes.

• CYP2AU1, CYP2-like2 and GSTΩ genes were upregulated at pH 6.5.

• Water acidification increases gill’s susceptibility to oxidative stress.

• PHE activated enzymatic antioxidant system after 96 h exposure.

• Oysters can protect against with oxidative stress.


Ocean acidification is a result of the decrease in the pH of in marine water, caused mainly by the increase in CO2 released in the atmosphere and its consequent dissolution in seawater. These changes can be dramatic for marine organisms especially for oysters Crassostrea gasar if other stressors such as xenobiotics are present. The effect of pH changes (6.5, 7.0 and 8.2) was assessed on the transcript levels of biotransformation [cytochromes P450 (CYP2AU1, CYP2-like2) and glutathione S-transferase (GSTΩ-like)] and antioxidant [superoxide dismutase (SOD-like), catalase (CAT-like) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx-like)] genes, as well as enzyme activities [superoxide dismutase, (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione-S-transferases (GST) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH)] and lipid peroxidation (MDA) in the gills of Crassostrea gasar exposed to 100 μg·L−1 of phenanthrene (PHE) for 24 and 96 h. Likewise, the PHE burdens was evaluated in whole soft tissues of exposed oysters. The accumulation of PHE in oysters was independent of pH. However, acidification promoted a significant decrease in the transcript levels of some protective genes (24 h exposure: CYP2AU1 and GSTΩ-like –; 96 h exposure: CAT-like and GPx-like), which was not observed in the presence of PHE. Activities of GST, CAT and SOD enzymes increased in the oysters exposed to PHE at the control pH (8.2), but at a lower pH values, this activation was suppressed, and no changes were observed in the G6PDH activity and MDA levels. Biotransformation genes showed better responses after 24 h, and antioxidant-coding genes after 96 h, along with the activities of antioxidant enzymes (SOD, CAT), probably because biotransformation of PHE increases the generation of reactive oxygen species. The lack of change in MDA levels suggests that antioxidant modulation efficiently prevented oxidative stress. The effect of pH on the responses to PHE exposure should be taken into account before using these and any other genes as potential molecular biomarkers for PHE exposure.

Continue reading ‘Stress responses in Crassostrea gasar exposed to combined effects of acute pH changes and phenanthrene’

Physiological trade-offs, acid-base balance and ion-osmoregulatory plasticity in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) juveniles under complex scenarios of salinity variation, ocean acidification and high ammonia challenge


• Ocean acidification (OA) is becoming a serious threat to the marine ecosystem.

• OA can co-occur with other perturbations including salinity reduction and high ammonia.

• Interactive effects of these three stressers were evaluated on performance of European sea bass.

• Physiological, ion-osmoregulatory and gene-expression responses were modulated differentially under experimental conditions.

• Fish became more vulnerable to OA and ammonia toxicity at low salinities.


In this era of global climate change, ocean acidification is becoming a serious threat to the marine ecosystem. Despite this, it remains almost unknown how fish will respond to the co-occurrence of ocean acidification with other conventional environmental perturbations typically salinity fluctuation and high ammonia threat. Therefore, the present work evaluated the interactive effects of elevated pCO2, salinity reduction and high environmental ammonia (HEA) on the ecophysiological performance of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Fish were progressively acclimated to seawater (32 ppt), to brackish water (10 ppt) and to hyposaline water (2.5 ppt). Following acclimation to different salinities for at least two weeks, fish were exposed to CO2-induced water acidification representing present-day (control pCO2, 400 μatm, LoCO2) and future (high pCO2, 1000 μatm, HiCO2) sea-surface CO2 level for 3, 7 and 21 days. At the end of each exposure period, fish were challenged with HEA for 6 h (1.18 mM representing 50% of 96 h LC50). Results show that, in response to the individual HiCO2 exposure, fish within each salinity compensated for blood acidosis. Fish subjected to HiCO2 were able to maintain ammonia excretion rate (Jamm) within control levels, suggesting that HiCO2 exposure alone had no impact on Jamm at any of the salinities. For 32 and 10 ppt fish, up-regulated expression of Na+/K+-ATPase was evident in all exposure groups (HEA, HiCO2 and HEA/HiCO2 co-exposed), whereas Na+/K+/2Cl− co-transporter was up-regulated mainly in HiCO2 group. Plasma glucose and lactate content were augmented in all exposure conditions for all salinity regimes. During HEA and HEA/HiCO2, Jamm was inhibited at different time points for all salinities, which resulted in a significant build-up of ammonia in plasma and muscle. Branchial expressions of Rhesus glycoproteins (Rhcg isoforms and Rhbg) were upregulated in response to HiCO2 as well as HEA at 10 ppt, with a more moderate response in 32 ppt groups. Overall, our findings denote that the adverse effect of single exposures of ocean acidification or HEA is exacerbated when present together, and suggests that fish are more vulnerable to these environmental threats at low salinities.

Continue reading ‘Physiological trade-offs, acid-base balance and ion-osmoregulatory plasticity in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) juveniles under complex scenarios of salinity variation, ocean acidification and high ammonia challenge’

Transgenerational effects in an ecological context: conditioning of adult sea urchins to upwelling conditions alters maternal provisioning and progeny phenotype


• Differential maternal conditioning did not affect egg size or protein content.

• Simulated upwelling conditions increased maternal provisioning of lipids to eggs.

• Maternal conditioning to simulated upwelling increased embryo body size.


Transgenerational plasticity occurs when the conditions experienced by the parental generation influence the phenotype of their progeny. This may in turn affect progeny performance and physiological tolerance, providing a means by which organisms cope with rapid environmental change. We conditioned adult purple sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, to combined pCO2 and temperature conditions reflective of in situ conditions of their natural habitat, the benthos in kelp forests of nearshore California, and then assessed the performance of their progeny raised under different pCO2 levels. Adults were conditioned during gametogenesis to treatments that reflected static non-upwelling (~650 μatm pCO2, ~17 °C) and upwelling (~1300 μatm pCO2, ~13 °C) conditions. Following approximately 4 months of conditioning, the adults were spawned and embryos were raised under low pCO2 (~450 μatm pCO2) or high pCO2 (~1050 μatm pCO2) treatments to determine if differential maternal conditioning impacted the progeny response to a single abiotic stressor: pCO2. We examined the size, protein content, and lipid content of eggs from both sets of conditioned female urchins. Offspring were sampled at four stages of early development: hatched blastula, gastrula, prism, and echinopluteus. This resulted in four sets of offspring: (1) progeny from non-upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under low pCO2, (2) progeny from non-upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under high pCO2, (3) progeny from upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under low pCO2, and (4) progeny from upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under high pCO2. We then assessed the effects of maternal conditioning along with the effects of developmental pCO2 levels on body size of the progeny. Our results showed that differential maternal conditioning had no impact on average egg size, although non-upwelling females produced eggs that were more variable in size. Maternal conditioning did not affect protein content but did have a modest impact on egg lipid content. Developing embryos whose mothers were conditioned to simulated upwelling conditions (~1300 μatm pCO2, ~13 °C) were greater in body size, although this effect was no longer evident at the echinopluteus larval stage. Although maternal conditioning affected offspring body size, the pCO2 levels under which the embryos were raised did not. Overall, this laboratory study provides insight into how transgenerational effects may function in nature. The impacts of parental environmental history on progeny phenotype during early development have important implications regarding recruitment success and population-level effects.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational effects in an ecological context: conditioning of adult sea urchins to upwelling conditions alters maternal provisioning and progeny phenotype’

Legacy of multiple stressors: responses of gastropod larvae and juveniles to ocean acidification and nutrition

Ocean acidification poses a significant threat to calcifying invertebrates by negatively influencing shell deposition and growth. An organism’s performance under ocean acidification is not determined by the susceptibility of one single life-history stage, nor is it solely controlled by the direct physical consequences of ocean acidification. Shell development by one life-history stage is sometimes a function of the pH or pCO2 levels experienced during earlier developmental stages. Furthermore, environmental factors such as access to nutrition can buffer organismal responses of calcifying invertebrates to ocean acidification, or they can function as a co-occurring stressor when access is low. We reared larvae and juveniles of the planktotrophic marine gastropod Crepidula fornicata through combined treatments of nutritional stress and low pH, and we monitored how multiple stressors endured during the larval stage affected juvenile performance. Shell growth responded non-linearly to decreasing pH, significantly declining between pH 7.6 and pH 7.5 in larvae and juveniles. Larval rearing at pH 7.5 reduced juvenile growth as a carryover effect. Larval rearing at pH 7.6 reduced subsequent juvenile growth despite the absence of a negative impact on larval growth, demonstrating a latent effect. Low larval pH magnified the impact of larval nutritional stress on competence for metamorphosis and increased carryover effects of larval nutrition on juvenile growth. Trans-life-cycle effects of larval nutrition were thus modulated by larval exposure to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Legacy of multiple stressors: responses of gastropod larvae and juveniles to ocean acidification and nutrition’

Temporal effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral–algal competition

While there is an ever-expanding list of impacts on coral reefs as a result of ocean warming and acidification, there is little information on how these global changes influence coral–algal competition. The present study assessed the impact of business-as-usual ocean warming and acidification conditions on the survivorship, calcification, photosynthesis and respiration of the coral–algal interaction between the macroalga Halimeda heteromorpha and the coral Acropora intermedia over 8 weeks in two seasons. The physiological responses of A. intermedia and H. heteromorpha were highly dependent on season, with both organisms demonstrating optimal rates of calcification and photosynthesis under present-day conditions in summer. Contact with H. heteromorpha did not influence A. intermedia survivorship, however did reduce long-term calcification rates. Photosynthetic rates of A. intermedia were influenced by algal contact temporally in opposing directions, with rates reduced in winter and increased in summer. Enhanced photosynthetic rates as a result of algal contact were not enough to offset the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification, which regardless of coral–algal contact, reduced survivorship, calcification and photosynthesis of A. intermedia and the calcification rates of H. heteromorpha. These findings provide experimental support for the idea that the effects of coral–algal competition are temporally variable, and help improve our understanding of how future ocean warming and acidification may alter the dynamics of coral–algal interactions.

Continue reading ‘Temporal effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral–algal competition’

The combined effects of pH and temperature on the physiology of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula

The purpose of this investigation was to investigate the impact of ocean acidification and warming sea temperature on Oculina arbuscula, a temperate scleractinian coral found in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) off the coast of Sapelo Island, GA. GRNMS experiences seasonal fluctuations in temperatures that reach 30°C and concurrent decreases in pH to approximately 8.0, thus naturally modelling the projected effects of anthropogenic climate change on an annual basis. Oculina arbuscula colonies in GRNMS are exposed to these natural fluctuations in temperature and pH, therefore I hypothesized that this species is resistant to the combined effects of high temperature and low pH. Specifically, I predicted that there would be no effects on calcification rates, symbiont densities, or chlorophyll a concentrations. To test these predictions, O. arbuscula colonies were collected from GRNMS, divided into three treatments and a control, and maintained for 75 days. Ambient temperature was applied at 26°C while high temperature was 31°C, and the ambient pH was 7.9 with a low pH of 7.65. The ambient values were applied to the control aquaria, and the three treatments experienced ocean acidification (ambient temperature, low pH), ocean warming (high temperature, ambient pH), and combined ocean warming and acidification (high temperature, low pH). Results showed that calcification rates were significantly reduced by the combined stressors and symbiont densities and chlorophyll concentrations were significantly reduced by high temperature treatments. These results indicated that with continued ocean acidification and warming, the success of Oculina arbsucula within the spatially competitive benthic communities in GRNMS may be compromised.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of pH and temperature on the physiology of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book