Posts Tagged 'nitrogen'

Influence of CO2 and nitrogen limitation on the coccolith volume of Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyta) (update)

Coccolithophores, a key phytoplankton group, are one of the most studied organisms regarding their physiological response to ocean acidification/carbonation. The biogenic production of calcareous coccoliths has made coccolithophores a promising group for paleoceanographic research aiming to reconstruct past environmental conditions. Recently, geochemical and morphological analyses of fossil coccoliths have gained increased interest in regard to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. The cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (Lohm.) Hay and Mohler was cultured over a range of pCO2 levels in controlled laboratory experiments under nutrient replete and nitrogen limited conditions. Measurements of photosynthesis and calcification revealed, as previously published, an increase in particulate organic carbon production and a moderate decrease in calcification from ambient to elevated pCO2. The enhancement in particulate organic carbon production was accompanied by an increase in cell diameter. Changes in coccolith volume were best correlated with the coccosphere/cell diameter and no significant correlation was found between the coccolith volume and the particulate inorganic carbon production. The conducted experiments revealed that the coccolith volume of E. huxleyi is variable with aquatic CO2 concentration but its sensitivity is rather small in comparison with its sensitivity to nitrogen limitation. Comparing coccolith morphological and geometrical parameters like volume, mass and size to physiological parameters under controlled laboratory conditions is an important step to understand variations in fossil coccolith geometry.

Continue reading ‘Influence of CO2 and nitrogen limitation on the coccolith volume of Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyta) (update)’

Global declines in oceanic nitrification rates as a consequence of ocean acidification

Ocean acidification produced by dissolution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO(2)) emissions in seawater has profound consequences for marine ecology and biogeochemistry. The oceans have absorbed one-third of CO(2) emissions over the past two centuries, altering ocean chemistry, reducing seawater pH, and affecting marine animals and phytoplankton in multiple ways. Microbially mediated ocean biogeochemical processes will be pivotal in determining how the earth system responds to global environmental change; however, how they may be altered by ocean acidification is largely unknown. We show here that microbial nitrification rates decreased in every instance when pH was experimentally reduced (by 0.05-0.14) at multiple locations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Nitrification is a central process in the nitrogen cycle that produces both the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and oxidized forms of nitrogen used by phytoplankton and other microorganisms in the sea; at the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series and Hawaii Ocean Time-series sites, experimental acidification decreased ammonia oxidation rates by 38% and 36%. Ammonia oxidation rates were also strongly and inversely correlated with pH along a gradient produced in the oligotrophic Sargasso Sea (r(2) = 0.87, P < 0.05). Across all experiments, rates declined by 8-38% in low pH treatments, and the greatest absolute decrease occurred where rates were highest off the California coast. Collectively our results suggest that ocean acidification could reduce nitrification rates by 3-44% within the next few decades, affecting oceanic nitrous oxide production, reducing supplies of oxidized nitrogen in the upper layers of the ocean, and fundamentally altering nitrogen cycling in the sea.

Continue reading ‘Global declines in oceanic nitrification rates as a consequence of ocean acidification’


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