Posts Tagged 'photosynthesis'

The effects of pH and pCO2 on photosynthesis and respiration in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii

The response of marine phytoplankton to the ongoing increase in atmospheric pCO2 reflects the consequences of both increased CO2 concentration and decreased pH in surface seawater. In the model diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii, we explored the effects of varying pCO2 and pH, independently and in concert, on photosynthesis and respiration by incubating samples in water enriched in H218O. In long-term experiments (~6-h) at saturating light intensity, we observed no effects of pH or pCO2 on growth rate, photosynthesis or respiration. This absence of a measurable response reflects the very small change in energy used by the carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM) compared to the energy used in carbon fixation. In short-term experiments (~3 min), we also observed no effects of pCO2 or pH, even under limiting light intensity. We surmise that in T. weissflogii, it is the photosynthetic production of NADPH and ATP, rather than the CO2-saturation of Rubisco that controls the rate of photosynthesis at low irradiance. In short-term experiments, we observed a slightly higher respiration rate at low pH at the onset of the dark period, possibly reflecting the energy used for exporting H+ and maintaining pH homeostasis. Based on what is known of the biochemistry of marine phytoplankton, our results are likely generalizable to other diatoms and a number of other eukaryotic species. The direct effects of ocean acidification on growth, photosynthesis and respiration in these organisms should be small over the range of atmospheric pCO2 predicted for the twenty-first century.

Continue reading ‘The effects of pH and pCO2 on photosynthesis and respiration in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii’

Phytoplankton community responses to iron and CO2 enrichment in different biogeochemical regions of the Southern Ocean

The ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is causing rapid increases in seawater pCO2levels. However, little is known about the potential impacts of elevated CO2 availability on the phytoplankton assemblages in the Southern Ocean’s oceanic regions. Therefore, we conducted four incubation experiments using surface seawater collected from the subantarctic zone (SAZ) and the subpolar zone (SPZ) in the Australian sector of the Southern Ocean during the austral summer of 2011–2012. For incubations, FeCl3 solutions were added to reduce iron (Fe) limitation for phytoplankton growth. Ambient and high (~750 µatm) CO2 treatments were then prepared with and without addition of CO2-saturated seawater, respectively. Non-Fe-added (control) treatments were also prepared to assess the effects of Fe enrichment (overall, control, Fe-added, and Fe-and-CO2-added treatments). In the initial samples, the dominant phytoplankton taxa shifted with latitude from haptophytes to diatoms, likely reflecting silicate availability in the water. Under Fe-enriched conditions, increased CO2 level significantly reduced the accumulation of biomarker pigments in haptophytes in the SAZ and AZ, whereas a significant decrease in diatom markers was only detected in the SAZ. The CO2-related changes in phytoplankton community composition were greater in the SAZ, most likely due to the decrease in coccolithophore biomass. Our results suggest that an increase in CO2, if it coincides with Fe enrichment, could differentially affect the phytoplankton community composition in different geographical regions of the Southern Ocean, depending on the locally dominant taxa and environmental conditions.

Continue reading ‘Phytoplankton community responses to iron and CO2 enrichment in different biogeochemical regions of the Southern Ocean’

Resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to ocean acidification and enhanced irradiance

The Arctic Ocean is a region particularly prone to ongoing ocean acidification (OA) and climate-driven changes. The influence of these changes on Arctic phytoplankton assemblages, however, remains poorly understood. In order to understand how OA and enhanced irradiances (e.g., resulting from sea–ice retreat) will alter the species composition, primary production, and eco-physiology of Arctic phytoplankton, we conducted an incubation experiment with an assemblage from Baffin Bay (71°N, 68°W) under different carbonate chemistry and irradiance regimes. Seawater was collected from just below the deep Chl a maximum, and the resident phytoplankton were exposed to 380 and 1000 µatm pCO2 at both 15 and 35% incident irradiance. On-deck incubations, in which temperatures were 6 °C above in situ conditions, were monitored for phytoplankton growth, biomass stoichiometry, net primary production, photo-physiology, and taxonomic composition. During the 8-day experiment, taxonomic diversity decreased and the diatom Chaetoceros socialis became increasingly dominant irrespective of light or CO2 levels. We found no statistically significant effects from either higher CO2 or light on physiological properties of phytoplankton during the experiment. We did, however, observe an initial 2-day stress response in all treatments, and slight photo-physiological responses to higher CO2 and light during the first five days of the incubation. Our results thus indicate high resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to OA and enhanced irradiance levels, challenging the commonly predicted stimulatory effects of enhanced CO2 and light availability for primary production.

Continue reading ‘Resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to ocean acidification and enhanced irradiance’

Tissue nitrogen status does not alter the physiological responses of Macrocystis pyrifera to ocean acidification

Evaluating the relative effects of local (e.g. eutrophication) and global (e.g. ocean acidification, OA) environmental change is important to predict how marine macroalgae might respond to future oceanic conditions. In this study, the effects of nitrate supply, and hence tissue nitrogen status, and OA on the N metabolism, growth and photosynthetic rates of the kelp Macrocystis pyrifera were examined. We hypothesized that (1) NO3− uptake and assimilation processes will depend on nitrate supply and (2) tissue N status modulates the physiological response of Macrocystis to OA. Macrocystis blades were grown for 3 days under replete or deplete NO3−concentrations. Thereafter, the NO3− replete and deplete blades were grown for 3 days under current and future pCO2/pH conditions, with NO3− enriched SW. After the initial pre-experimental incubation, total tissue N content, nitrate reductase (NR) activity and internal NO3− pools were reduced under low [NO3−], while NO3− uptake rates increased. Initial tissue N status did not modulate the physiological response to OA. However, NO3− uptake rates and NR activity were enhanced under the OA treatment regardless of the initial tissue N status, suggesting that increases in [H+]/reduced pH might play a regulating role in the N metabolism of this species.

Continue reading ‘Tissue nitrogen status does not alter the physiological responses of Macrocystis pyrifera to ocean acidification’

Response of Posidonia oceanica seagrass and its epibiont communities to ocean acidification

The unprecedented rate of CO2 increase in our atmosphere and subsequent ocean acidification (OA) threatens coastal ecosystems. To forecast the functioning of coastal seagrass ecosystems in acidified oceans, more knowledge on the long-term adaptive capacities of seagrass species and their epibionts is needed. Therefore we studied morphological characteristics of Posidonia oceanica and the structure of its epibiont communities at a Mediterranean volcanic CO2 vent off Panarea Island (Italy) and performed a laboratory experiment to test the effect of OA on P. oceanica photosynthesis and its potential buffering capacity. At the study site east of Basiluzzo Islet, venting of CO2 gas was controlled by tides, resulting in an average pH difference of 0.1 between the vent and reference site. P. oceanicashoot and leaf density was unaffected by these levels of OA, although shorter leaves at the vent site suggest increased susceptibility to erosion, potentially by herbivores. The community of sessile epibionts differed in composition and was characterized by a higher species richness at the vent site, though net epiphytic calcium carbonate concentration was similar. These findings suggest a higher ecosystem complexity at the vent site, which may have facilitated the higher diversity of copepods in the otherwise unaffected motile epibiont community. In the laboratory experiment, P. oceanica photosynthesis increased with decreasing pHT (7.6, 6.6, 5.5), which induced an elevated pH at the leaf surfaces of up to 0.5 units compared to the ambient seawater pHT of 6.6. This suggests a temporary pH buffering in the diffusive boundary layer of leaves, which could be favorable for epibiont organisms. The results of this multispecies study contribute to understanding community-level responses and underlying processes in long-term acidified conditions. Increased replication and monitoring of physico-chemical parameters on an annual scale are, however, recommended to assure that the biological responses observed during a short period reflect long-term dynamics of these parameters.

Continue reading ‘Response of Posidonia oceanica seagrass and its epibiont communities to ocean acidification’

The dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea will benefit from future climate change: The interactive effects of ocean acidification, warming and high irradiance on photophysiology and hemolytic activity

Due to global climate change, marine phytoplankton will likely experience low pH (ocean acidification), high temperatures and high irradiance in the future. Here, this work report the results of a batch culture experiment conducted to study the interactive effects of elevated CO2, increased temperature and high irradiance on the harmful dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea, isolated at Dongtou Island, Eastern China Sea. The A. sanguineacells were acclimated in high CO2 condition for about three months before testing the responses of cells to a full factorial matrix experimentation during a 7-day period. This study measured the variation in physiological parameters and hemolytic activity in 8 treatments, representing full factorial combinations of 2 levels each of exposure to CO2(400 and 1000 μatm), temperature (20 and 28 °C) and irradiance (50 and 200 μmol photons m−2 s−1). Sustained growth of A. sanguinea occurred in all treatments, but high CO2 (HC) stimulated faster growth than low CO2 (LC). The pigments (chlorophyll a and carotenoid) decreased in all HC treatments. The quantum yield (Fv/Fm) declined slightly in all high-temperature (HT) treatments. High irradiance (HL) induced the accumulation of ultraviolet-absorbing compounds (UVabc) irrespective of temperature and CO2. The hemolytic activity in the LC treatments, however, declined when exposed to HT and HL, but HC alleviated the adverse effects of HT and HL on hemolytic activity. All HC and HL conditions and the combinations of high temperature*high light (HTHL) and high CO2*high temperature*high light (HCHTHL) positively affected the growth in comparison to the low CO2*low temperature*low light (LCLTLL) treatment. High temperature (HT), high light (HL) and a combination of HT*HL, however, negatively impacted hemolytic activity. CO2 was the main factor that affected the growth and hemolytic activity. There were no significant interactive effects of CO2*temperature*irradiance on growth, pigment, Fv/Fm or hemolytic activity, but there were effects on Pm, α, and Ek. If these results are extrapolated to the natural environment, it can be hypothesized that A. sanguinea cells will benefit from the combination of ocean acidification, warming, and high irradiance that are likely to occur under future climate change. It is assumed that faster growth and higher hemolytic activity and UVabc of this species will occur under future conditions compared with those the current CO2 (400 μatm) and temperature (20 °C) conditions.

Continue reading ‘The dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea will benefit from future climate change: The interactive effects of ocean acidification, warming and high irradiance on photophysiology and hemolytic activity’

Growth and photosynthetic responses of Ulva lactuca (Ulvales, Chlorophyta) germlings to different pH levels

In ocean ecosystems, fluctuations in seawater pH affect CO2 fluxes, fundamentally influencing the metabolism of marine algae, especially during the early stages of macroalgal development. In this study, short-term exposure tests (minutes) and prolonged culture experiments (eight days) were performed at different pH levels to investigate the growth and photosynthetic responses of Ulva lactuca (Ulvales, Chlorophyta) germlings. Both acidified and alkalized seawater significantly depressed algal photosynthesis during short-term exposure tests. Prolonged culture in acidified or alkalized seawater also notably decreased photosynthesis rates and growth rates of U. lactuca germlings, but increased energy consumption and lipid peroxidation, indicating damage to the germlings. Our results suggested that both lowered and increased pH levels of seawater exert significant physiological stress on U. lactucagermlings.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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