Posts Tagged 'phanerogams'

The influence of CO2 enrichment on net photosynthesis of seagrass Zostera marina in a brackish water environment

Seagrasses are distributed across the globe and their communities may play key roles in the coastal ecosystems. Seagrass meadows are expected to benefit from the increased carbon availability which might be used in photosynthesis in a future high CO2 world. The main aim of this study was to examine the effect of elevated pCO2 on the net photosynthesis of seagrass Zostera marina in a brackish water environment. The short-term mesocosm experiments were conducted in Kõiguste Bay (northern part of Gulf of Riga, the Baltic Sea) in June–July 2013 and 2014. As the levels of pCO2 naturally range from ca. 150 μatm to well above 1000 μatm under summer conditions in Kõiguste Bay we chose to operate in mesocosms with the pCO2 levels of ca. 2000, ca. 1000, and ca. 200 μatm. Additionally, in 2014 the photosynthesis of Z. marina was measured outside of the mesocosm in the natural conditions. In the shallow coastal Baltic Sea seagrass Z. marina lives in a highly variable environment due to seasonality and rapid changes in meteorological conditions. This was demonstrated by the remarkable differences in water temperatures between experimental years of ca. 8°C. Thus, the current study also investigated the effect of elevated pCO2 in combination with short-term natural fluctuations of environmental factors, i.e., temperature and PAR on the photosynthesis of Z. marina. Our results show that elevated pCO2 alone did not enhance the photosynthesis of the seagrass. The photosynthetic response of Z. marina to CO2 enrichment was affected by changes in water temperature and light availability.

Continue reading ‘The influence of CO2 enrichment on net photosynthesis of seagrass Zostera marina in a brackish water environment’

Linking gene expression to productivity to unravel long- and short-term responses of seagrasses exposed to CO2 in volcanic vents

Ocean acidification is a major threat for marine life but seagrasses are expected to benefit from high CO2. In situ (long-term) and transplanted (short-term) plant incubations of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa were performed near and away the influence of volcanic CO2 vents at Vulcano Island to test the hypothesis of beneficial effects of CO2 on plant productivity. We relate, for the first time, the expression of photosynthetic, antioxidant and metal detoxification-related genes to net plant productivity (NPP). Results revealed a consistent pattern between gene expression and productivity indicating water origin as the main source of variability. However, the hypothesised beneficial effect of high CO2 around vents was not supported. We observed a consistent long- and short-term pattern of gene down-regulation and 2.5-fold NPP decrease in plants incubated in water from the vents and a generalized up-regulation and NPP increase in plants from the vent site incubated with water from the Reference site. Contrastingly, NPP of specimens experimentally exposed to a CO2 range significantly correlated with CO2 availability. The down-regulation of metal-related genes in C. nodosa leaves exposed to water from the venting site suggests that other factors than heavy metals, may be at play at Vulcano confounding the CO2 effects.

Continue reading ‘Linking gene expression to productivity to unravel long- and short-term responses of seagrasses exposed to CO2 in volcanic vents’

Light availability and temperature, not increased CO2, will structure future meadows of Posidonia oceanica

We evaluated the photosynthetic performance of Posidonia oceanica during short-term laboratory exposures to ambient and elevated temperatures (24–25 °C and 29–30 °C) warming and pCO2 (380, 750 and 1000 ppm pCO2) under normal and low light conditions (200 and 40 μmol photons m−2 s−1 respectively). Plant growth was measured at the low light regime and showed a negative response to warming. Light was a critical factor for photosynthetic performance, although we found no evidence of compensation of photosynthetic quantum efficiency in high light. Relative Electron Rate Transport (rETRmax) was higher in plants incubated in high light, but not affected by pCO2 or temperature. The saturation irradiance (Ik) was negatively affected by temperature. We conclude that elevated CO2 does not enhance photosynthetic activity and growth, in the short term for P. oceanica, while temperature has a direct negative effect on growth. Low light availability also negatively affected photosynthetic performance during the short experimental period examined here. Therefore increasing concentrations of CO2 may not compensate for predicted future conditions of warmer water and higher turbidity for seagrass meadows.

Continue reading ‘Light availability and temperature, not increased CO2, will structure future meadows of Posidonia oceanica’

Seagrass ecophysiological performance under ocean warming and acidification

Seagrasses play an essential ecological role within coastal habitats and their worldwide population decline has been linked to different types of anthropogenic forces. We investigated, for the first time, the combined effects of future ocean warming and acidification on fundamental biological processes of Zostera noltii, including shoot density, leaf coloration, photophysiology (electron transport rate, ETR; maximum PSII quantum yield, Fv/Fm) and photosynthetic pigments. Shoot density was severely affected under warming conditions, with a concomitant increase in the frequency of brownish colored leaves (seagrass die-off). Warming was responsible for a significant decrease in ETR and Fv/Fm (particularly under control pH conditions), while promoting the highest ETR variability (among experimental treatments). Warming also elicited a significant increase in pheophytin and carotenoid levels, alongside an increase in carotenoid/chlorophyll ratio and De-Epoxidation State (DES). Acidification significantly affected photosynthetic pigments content (antheraxanthin, β-carotene, violaxanthin and zeaxanthin), with a significant decrease being recorded under the warming scenario. No significant interaction between ocean acidification and warming was observed. Our findings suggest that future ocean warming will be a foremost determinant stressor influencing Z. noltii survival and physiological performance. Additionally, acidification conditions to occur in the future will be unable to counteract deleterious effects posed by ocean warming.

Continue reading ‘Seagrass ecophysiological performance under ocean warming and acidification’

Seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) seedlings in a high-CO2 world: from physiology to herbivory

Under future increased CO2 concentrations, seagrasses are predicted to perform better as a result of increased photosynthesis, but the effects in carbon balance and growth are unclear and remain unexplored for early life stages such as seedlings, which allow plant dispersal and provide the potential for adaptation under changing environmental conditions. Furthermore, the outcome of the concomitant biochemical changes in plant-herbivore interactions has been poorly studied, yet may have important implications in plant communities. In this study we determined the effects of experimental exposure to current and future predicted CO2 concentrations on the physiology, size and defense strategies against herbivory in the earliest life stage of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica. The photosynthetic performance of seedlings, assessed by fluorescence, improved under increased pCO2 conditions after 60 days, although these differences disappeared after 90 days. Furthermore, these plants exhibited bigger seeds and higher carbon storage in belowground tissues, having thus more resources to tolerate and recover from stressors. Of the several herbivory resistance traits measured, plants under high pCO2 conditions had a lower leaf N content but higher sucrose. These seedlings were preferred by herbivorous sea urchins in feeding trials, which could potentially counteract some of the positive effects observed.

Continue reading ‘Seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) seedlings in a high-CO2 world: from physiology to herbivory’

Seagrasses (Zostera marina) and (Zostera japonica) display a differential photosynthetic response to TCO2: implications for acidification mitigation

Excess atmospheric CO2 is being absorbed at an unprecedented rate by the global and coastal oceans, shifting the baseline pCO2 and altering seawater carbonate chemistry in a process known as ocean acidification (OA). Recent attention has been given to near-shore vegetated habitats, such as seagrass beds, which may have the potential to mitigate the effects of acidification on vulnerable calcifying organisms via photosynthesis. Seagrasses are capable of raising seawater pH and calcium carbonate saturation state during times of high photosynthetic activity. To better understand the photosynthetic potential of seagrass OA mitigation, we exposed Pacific Northwest populations of native Zostera marina and non-native Zostera japonica seagrasses from Padilla Bay, WA, to various irradiance and total CO2 (TCO2) concentrations ranging from ~1770 – 2100 μmol TCO2 kg-1.

Our results indicate that the maximum net photosynthetic rate (Pmax) for Z. japonica as a function of irradiance and TCO2 was 3x greater than Z. marina when standardized to chlorophyll (360 ± 74 μmol TCO2 mgchl-1 hr-1 and 113 ± 21 μmol TCO2 mgchl-1 hr-1, respectively). In addition, Z. japonica increased its Pmax 77% (± 56%) when TCO2 increased from ~1770 to 2050 μmol TCO2 kg-1, whereas Z. marina did not display an increase in Pmax with higher TCO2. The lack of response by Z. marina to TCO2 is a departure from previous findings; however, it is likely that the variance within our treatments (coefficient of variation: 30 – 60%) obscured any positive effect of TCO2 on Z. marina given the range of concentrations tested. Because previous findings have shown that Z. marina is saturated with respect to HCO3- at low pH (≥ 7.5) we, therefore, suggest that the unequivocal positive response of Z. japonica to TCO2 is a result of increased HCO3- utilization in addition to increased CO2 uptake.

Considering that Z. japonica displays a greater photosynthetic rate than Z. marina when normalized to chlorophyll, particularly under enhanced TCO2 conditions, the ability of Z. japonica to mitigate OA may also increase relative to Z. marina in the future ocean. Higher photosynthetic rates by Z. japonica result in a greater potential, on a per chlorophyll basis, to increase pH and calcium carbonate saturation state—both of which affect acid-base regulation and calcification of calcifying organisms vulnerable to acidification. While it is important to consider genotypic differences throughout Z. marina and Z. japonica’s biogeographical distribution, our findings help elucidate the potential contribution both seagrasses have on variations in carbonate chemistry. Further, our results could be applied to ecosystem service models aimed at determining how specific seagrass species can be grown in a controlled setting to help mitigate OA hotspots that affect commercial shellfish aquaculture.

Continue reading ‘Seagrasses (Zostera marina) and (Zostera japonica) display a differential photosynthetic response to TCO2: implications for acidification mitigation’

Effects of elevated CO2 and nutrients on the community metabolism of a Cymodocea nodosa bed

We assessed the combined effects of elevated CO2 and nutrients on the metabolism of a benthic community dominated by the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa (Ucria) Ascherson in a mesocosm experiment. C. nodosa plants and their associated community were exposed to two CO2 levels simulating future (700 ppm, pH 7.84) and current (360 ppm, pH 8.12) conditions, and two nutrient levels (enriched and ambient concentration) in a total of four treatments (-C-N, -C+N, +C-N, +C+N). Net community production (NCP) was estimated from changes in the concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon in the seawater in light incubations using benthic chambers. The variation pattern of NCP with the ordinance was consistent for all treatments. Although differences among treatments were not statistically significant, average NCP values were lowest under CO2 enrichment conditions. NCP was lower at a high CO2 level and ambient nitrogen concentration compared to when nutrient availability was higher, suggesting that the low nutrient availability may modulate the community response to CO2 enrichment. The results obtained suggest that the stimulation of the net community production of C. nodosa by elevated CO2 concentrations may be curtailed by low nutrient availability.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated CO2 and nutrients on the community metabolism of a Cymodocea nodosa bed’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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