Posts Tagged 'photosynthesis'

Carbonate dissolution by reef microbial borers: a biogeological process producing alkalinity under different pCO2 conditions

Rising atmospheric CO2 is acidifying the world’s oceans, affecting both calcification and dissolution processes in coral reefs. Among processes, carbonate dissolution by bioeroding microflora has been overlooked, and especially its impact on seawater alkalinity. To date, this biogeological process has only been studied using microscopy or buoyant weight techniques. To better understand its possible effect on seawater alkalinity, and thus on reef carbonate budget, an experiment was conducted under various seawater chemistry conditions (2 ≤ Ωarag ≤ 3.5 corresponding to 440 ≤ pCO2 (µatm) ≤ 940) at 25 °C under night and daylight (200 µmol photons m−2 s−1) with natural microboring communities colonizing dead coral blocks (New Caledonia). Both the alkalinity anomaly technique and microscopy methods were used to study the activity of those communities dominated by the chlorophyte Ostreobium sp. Results show that (1) the amount of alkalinity released in seawater by such communities is significant and varies between 12.8 ± 0.7 at ΩArag ~ 2 and 5.6 ± 0.4 mmol CaCO3 m−2 day−1 at ΩArag ~ 3–3.5 considering a 12:12 photoperiod; (2) although dissolution is higher at night (~ 80 vs. 20% during daylight), the process can occur under significant photosynthetic activity; and (3) the process is greatly stimulated when an acidity threshold is reached (pCO2 ≥ 920 µatm vs. current conditions at constant light intensity). We show that carbonate dissolution by microborers is a major biogeochemical process that could dissolve a large part of the carbonates deposited by calcifying organisms under ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Carbonate dissolution by reef microbial borers: a biogeological process producing alkalinity under different pCO2 conditions’

A potential role for epigenetic processes in the acclimation response to elevated pCO2 in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

Understanding of the molecular responses underpinning diatom responses to ocean acidification is fundamental for predicting how important primary producers will be shaped by the continuous rise in atmospheric CO2. In this study, we have analyzed global transcriptomic changes of the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum following growth for 15 generations in elevated pCO2 by strand-specific RNA sequencing (ssRNA-seq). Our results indicate that no significant effects of elevated pCO2 and associated carbonate chemistry changes on the physiological performance of the cells were observed after 15 generations whereas the expression of genes encoding histones and other genes involved in chromatin structure were significantly down-regulated, while the expression of transposable elements (TEs) and genes encoding histone acetylation enzymes were significantly up-regulated. Furthermore, we identified a series of long non-protein coding RNAs (lncRNAs) specifically responsive to elevated pCO2, suggesting putative regulatory roles for these largely uncharacterized genome components. Taken together, our integrative analyses reveal that epigenetic elements such as TEs, histone modifications and lncRNAs may have important roles in the acclimation of diatoms to elevated pCO2 over short time scales and thus may influence longer term adaptive processes in response to progressive ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘A potential role for epigenetic processes in the acclimation response to elevated pCO2 in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum’

Diurnally fluctuating pCO2 modifies the physiological responses of coral recruits under ocean acidification

Diurnal pCO2 fluctuations have the potential to modulate the biological impact of ocean acidification (OA) on reef calcifiers, yet little is known about the physiological and biochemical responses of scleractinian corals to fluctuating carbonate chemistry under OA. Here, we exposed newly settled Pocillopora damicornis for 7 days to ambient pCO2, steady and elevated pCO2 (stable OA) and diurnally fluctuating pCO2 under future OA scenario (fluctuating OA). We measured the photo-physiology, growth (lateral growth, budding and calcification), oxidative stress and activities of carbonic anhydrase (CA), Ca-ATPase and Mg-ATPase. Results showed that while OA enhanced the photochemical performance of in hospite symbionts, it also increased catalase activity and lipid peroxidation. Furthermore, both OA treatments altered the activities of host and symbiont CA, suggesting functional changes in the uptake of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) for photosynthesis and calcification. Most importantly, only the fluctuating OA treatment resulted in a slight drop in calcification with concurrent up-regulation of Ca-ATPase and Mg-ATPase, implying increased energy expenditure on calcification. Consequently, asexual budding rates decreased by 50% under fluctuating OA. These results suggest that diel pCO2 oscillations could modify the physiological responses and potentially alter the energy budget of coral recruits under future OA, and that fluctuating OA is more energetically expensive for the maintenance of coral recruits than stable OA.

Continue reading ‘Diurnally fluctuating pCO2 modifies the physiological responses of coral recruits under ocean acidification’

Sporophytic photosynthesis and gametophytic growth of the kelp Ecklonia stolonifera affected by ocean acidification and warming

Juvenile sporophytes and gametophytes of Ecklonia stolonifera were incubated in combinations of three pCO2 levels (360, 720 and 980 ppmv) and two temperatures (10 and 15°C for sporophytes; 15 and 20°C for gametophytes) to examine potential effects of climate change on photosynthesis and growth. Sporophytes had significantly higher maximum quantum yields (Fv/Fm) and maximum relative electron transport rates (rETRmax) at 720 ppmv than 360 and 980 ppmv. Also, these parameters were significantly lower at higher temperature of 15°C than at 10°C. Growth of female gametophytes was maximal at 360 ppmv rather than enriched pCO2 levels. Female gametophytes had significantly lower growth at higher temperature of 20°C than at 15°C. These results indicate effects of elevated pCO2 varied between generations: stimulating sporophytic photosynthesis and inhibiting gametophytic growth. Ocean acidification and warming would constitute a grave threat to seedling cultivation of E. stolonifera caused by growth inhibition of gametophytes at high pCO2 levels and temperatures.

Continue reading ‘Sporophytic photosynthesis and gametophytic growth of the kelp Ecklonia stolonifera affected by ocean acidification and warming’

Elevated CO2 leads to enhanced photosynthesis but decreased growth in early life stages of reef building coralline algae

Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are key organisms in coral reef ecosystems, where they contribute to reef building and substrate stabilization. While ocean acidification due to increasing CO2 can affect the biology, physiology and ecology of fully developed CCA, the impacts of elevated CO2 on the early life stages of CCA are much less explored. We assessed the photosynthetic activity and growth of 10-day-old recruits of the reef-building crustose coralline alga Porolithon cf. onkodes exposed to ambient and enhanced CO2 seawater concentration causing a downward shift in pH of ∼0.3 units. Growth of the CCA was estimated using measurements of crust thickness and marginal expansion, while photosynthetic activity was studied with O2 microsensors. We found that elevated seawater CO2 enhanced gross photosynthesis and respiration, but significantly reduced vertical and marginal growth of the early life stages of P. cf. onkodes. Elevated CO2 stimulated photosynthesis, particularly at high irradiance, likely due to increased availability of CO2, but this increase did not translate into increased algal growth as expected, suggesting a decoupling of these two processes under ocean acidification scenarios. This study confirms the sensitivity of early stages of CCA to elevated CO2 and identifies complexities in the physiological processes underlying the decreased growth and abundance in these important coral reef builders upon ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Elevated CO2 leads to enhanced photosynthesis but decreased growth in early life stages of reef building coralline algae’

Impact of increased seawater pCO2 on the host and symbiotic algae of juvenile giant clam Tridacna crocea

Increases in atmospheric CO2 cause decreases in calcium carbonate saturation, which is predicted to affect the calcification process of most marine calcifiers. At the same time, the increase of seawater pCO2 is also known to increase the productivity of primary producers. Giant clams host symbiotic dinoflagellates (‘zooxanthellae’: Symbiodinium spp.) that provide nutrition and use CO2 as their primary source for photosynthesis. This leads to the hypothesis that increased seawater pCO2 rise could positively affect the production of giant clam zooxanthellae, and dampen effects of CO2 on host giant clams. To test this hypothesis, we measured the shell growth rate, photosynthesis rate, respiration rate and zooxanthellae density of the juvenile Tridacna crocea reared under three different pCO2 conditions. Results revealed that negative shell growth of juvenile Tridacna crocea was observed once seawater Ωarag reached less than 2.33. Additionally, although zooxanthellae density in T. crocea increased with seawater pCO2 rise, zooxanthellae productivity did not change, suggesting that the productivity per zooxanthella decreased in high pCO2 seawater. Our findings suggest future seawater pCO2 rise will not increase productivity of zooxanthellae, thus giant clam will be negatively impacted in the coming centuries.

Continue reading ‘Impact of increased seawater pCO2 on the host and symbiotic algae of juvenile giant clam Tridacna crocea’

Distinct bleaching resilience of photosynthetic plastid-bearing mollusks under thermal stress and high CO2 conditions

The impact of temperature on photo-symbiotic relationships has been highly studied in the tropical reef-forming corals but overlooked in less charismatic groups such as solar-powered sacoglossan sea slugs. These organisms display one of the most puzzling symbiotic features observed in the animal kingdom, i.e., their mollusk-plastid association, which enables them to retain photosynthetic active chloroplasts (i.e., kleptoplasts) retrieved from their algae feed sources. Here we analyze the impact of thermal stress (+4∘C) and high pCO2 conditions (ΔpH = 0.4) in survival, photophysiology (i.e., bleaching, photosynthetic efficiency, and metabolism) and stress defense mechanisms (i.e., heat shock and antioxidant response) of solar-powered sacoglossan sea slugs, from tropical (Elysia crispata) and temperate (E. viridis) environments. High temperature was the main factor affecting the survival of both species, while pH only affected the survival of the temperate model. The photobiology of E. viridis remained stable under the combined scenario, while photoinhibition was observed for E. crispata under high temperature and high pCO2. In fact, bleaching was observed within all tropical specimens exposed to warming (but not in the temperate ones), which constitutes the first report where the incidence of bleaching in tropical animals hosting photosynthetic symbionts, other than corals, occurs. Yet, the expulsion of kleptoplasts by the tropical sea slug, allied with metabolic depression, constituted a physiological response that did not imply signs of vulnerability (i.e., mortality) in the host itself. Although the temperate species revealed greater heat shock and antioxidant enzyme response to environmental stress, we argue that the tropical (stenotherm) sea slug species may display a greater scope for acclimatization than the temperate (eurytherm) sea slug. E. crispata may exhibit increased capacity for phenotypic plasticity by increasing fitness in a much narrower thermal niche (minimizing maintenance costs), which ultimately may allow to face severe environmental conditions more effectively than its temperate generalist counterpart (E. viridis).

Continue reading ‘Distinct bleaching resilience of photosynthetic plastid-bearing mollusks under thermal stress and high CO2 conditions’


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