Posts Tagged 'photosynthesis'

Physiological and molecular insights into adaptive evolution of the marine model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum under low-pH stress

The direct use of industrial flue gas in microalgae production is desired for mitigating CO2 emissions, but the low pH resulting from the inflow of acidic gases (mainly CO2, NOx, and SOx) imposes detrimental effects on microalgal growth and is considered the main technical challenge for simultaneous biomass production and CO2 sequestration. In this study, we investigated the adaptive responses of the model marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum to acidic stress at pH 6.0. Gradual changes in the ratio of morphotypes, chlorophyll content, and photosynthetic efficiency were observed as a result of adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) under constant acidic stress. The evolved strains showed a significant increase in growth rate in acidic conditions after ALE, and phenotypic characterization demonstrated a stable trait of acid tolerance with an average increase in growth by 110.4%, 46.1%, and 27.5% at pH 5.5, 6.0, and 6.5, respectively compared with the parental wild-type strain. Furthermore, RNA sequencing and whole-genome re-sequencing analyses revealed that core pathways, including photosynthesis, pH regulation/ion transport, and carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism, were upregulated across all three evolved strains, though they exhibited different evolutionary trajectories. This study demonstrated the feasibility of recovering photosynthetic capability after acidic stress in the marine diatom P. tricornutum through ALE and provided molecular data to reveal essential alterations in genetic regulations that could enable cells to tolerate low environmental pH.

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Assessing the impacts of simulated ocean alkalinity enhancement on viability and growth of cultures of near-shore species of phytoplankton

Over the past 250 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen steadily from 277 ppm to 405 ppm, leading to the exacerbation of the effects of climate change. As a result, new technologies are being developed to remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as negative emission technologies (NETs). One proposed NET is Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE), which would mimic the ocean’s natural weathering processes and sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. An analysis of published data investigating the effects of elevated pH on phytoplankton growth rate and experimental assessment of pH dependence of viability and growth rate was used to assess the potential impacts of OAE. Viability was assessed with a modified Serial Dilution Culture – Most Probable Number assay. Chlorophyll a fluorescence was used to test for changes in growth rates and photosynthetic competence. The results from this study suggest that there will be no significant impact on the viability or growth rates of Thalassiosira pseudonana or Pavlova lutheri with short-term (10 minute) exposure to elevated pH. However, when long-term (days) exposure occurs there is a significant decrease in growth rates with elevated pH. Short-term exposure is anticipated to more closely mirror the natural systems in which OAE will be implemented because of system flushing and replenishment of nutrients. These preliminary findings suggest that there will be little to no impact on a variety of taxonomic groups of phytoplankton when OAE occurs in naturally flushed systems.

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Long-term adaptation to elevated temperature but not CO2 alleviates the negative effects of ultraviolet-B radiation in a marine diatom

Multifaceted changes in marine environments as a result of anthropogenic activities are likely to have a compounding impact on the physiology of marine phytoplankton. Most studies on the combined effects of rising pCO2sea surface temperature, and UVB radiation on marine phytoplankton were only conducted in the short-term, which does not allow to test the adaptive capacity of phytoplankton and associated potential trade-offs. Here, we investigated populations of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum that were long-term (∼3.5 years, ∼3000 generations) adapted to elevated CO2 and/or elevated temperatures, and their physiological responses to short-term (∼2 weeks) exposure of two levels of ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation. Our results showed that while elevated UVB radiation showed predominantly negative effects on the physiological performance of P. tricornutum regardless of adaptation regimes. Elevated temperature alleviated these effects on most of the measured physiological parameters (e.g., photosynthesis). We also found that elevated CO2 can modulate these antagonistic interactions, and conclude that long-term adaptation to sea surface warming and rising CO2 may alter this diatom’s sensitivity to elevated UVB radiation in the environment. Our study provides new insights into marine phytoplankton’s long-term responses to the interplay of multiple environmental changes driven by climate change.

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Ocean acidification alters the benthic biofilm communities in intertidal soft sediments

Microphytobenthos (MPB) and bacterial biofilms play crucial roles in primary and secondary production, nutrient cycling and invertebrate settlement in coastal ecosystems, yet little is known of the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on these communities in intertidal soft sediments. To fill in this gap, a 28-day CO2 enhancement experiment was conducted for the benthic biofilms in soft intertidal sediments (muds and sands) from Qingdao, China. This experiment included three CO2 treatments: 400 ppm CO2 (control), 700 ppm CO2 and 1000 ppm CO2 (IPCC predicted value in 2100), which were established in a three-level CO2 incubator that can adjust the CO2 concentration in the overlying air. The effects of OA on benthic biofilms were assessed in the following three aspects: MPB biomass, biofilm community structure and microbial biogeochemical cycling (e.g., C-cycle, N-cycle and S-cycle). This study found that the 700 ppm CO2 treatment did not significantly affect the benthic biofilms in intertidal soft sediments, but the 1000 ppm CO2 treatment significantly altered the biofilm community composition and potentially their role in microbial biogeochemical cycling in sediments (especially in sandy sediments). For the bacterial community in biofilms, the 1000 ppm CO2 enhancement increased the relative abundance of Alteromonadales and Bacillales but decreased the relative abundance of Rhodobacterales and Flavobacteriales. For microbial biogeochemical cycling, the 1000 ppm CO2 treatment enhanced the potential of chemoheterotrophic activity, nitrate reduction and sulfur respiration in sediments, likely resulting in a more stressful environment (hypoxic and enriched H2S) for most benthic organisms. Even though incubations in this study were only 28 days long and thus couldn’t fully accommodate the range of longer-term adaptions, it still suggests that benthic biofilms in intertidal sandy sediments are likely to change significantly near the end of the century if anthropogenic CO2 emissions unmitigated, with profound implications on local ecosystems and biogeochemical cycling.

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Sponge organic matter recycling: reduced detritus production under extreme environmental conditions


  • Sponge metabolism was measured at the natural laboratory of Bouraké where sponges are naturally exposed to extreme conditions associated with tidal phase.
  • The photosymbiotic HMA sponge Rhabdastrella globostellata was able to cope with extreme acidification and deoxygenation seawater.
  • Photosynthetic activity of sponge symbionts was negatively affected during extreme environmental conditions.
  • The sponge loop pathway was disrupted during low tide, which correlated with extreme acidification, deoxygenation and warming seawater.


Sponges are a key component of coral reef ecosystems and play an important role in carbon and nutrient cycles. Many sponges are known to consume dissolved organic carbon and transform this into detritus, which moves through detrital food chains and eventually to higher trophic levels via what is known as the sponge loop. Despite the importance of this loop, little is known about how these cycles will be impacted by future environmental conditions. During two years (2018 and 2020), we measured the organic carbon, nutrient recycling, and photosynthetic activity of the massive HMA, photosymbiotic sponge Rhabdastrella globostellata at the natural laboratory of Bouraké in New Caledonia, where the physical and chemical composition of seawater regularly change according to the tide. We found that while sponges experienced acidification and low dissolved oxygen at low tide in both sampling years, a change in organic carbon recycling whereby sponges stopped producing detritus (i.e., the sponge loop) was only found when sponges also experienced higher temperature in 2020. Our findings provide new insights into how important trophic pathways may be affected by changing ocean conditions.

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Reallocation of elemental content and macromolecules in the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to acclimate to climate change

Global climate change leads to simultaneous changes in multiple environmental drivers in the marine realm. Although physiological characterization of coccolithophores has been studied under climate change, there is limited knowledge on the biochemical responses of this biogeochemically important phytoplankton group to changing multiple environmental drivers. Here, we investigate the interactive effects of reduced phosphorus availability (4 to 0.4 µmol L−1), elevated pCO2 concentrations (426 to 946 µatm), and increasing light intensity (40 to 300 µmol photons m−2 s−1) on elemental content and macromolecules of the cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Reduced phosphorus availability reduces particulate organic nitrogen (PON) and protein contents per cell under 40 µmol photons m−2 s−1 but not under 300 µmol photons m−2 s−1. Reduced phosphorus availability and elevated pCO2 concentrations act synergistically to increase particulate organic carbon (POC) and carbohydrate contents per cell under 300 µmol photons m−2 s−1 but not under 40 µmol photons m−2 s−1. Reduced phosphorus availability, elevated pCO2 concentrations, and increasing light intensity act synergistically to increase the allocation of POC to carbohydrates. Under elevated pCO2 concentrations and increasing light intensity, enhanced carbon fixation could increase carbon storage in the phosphorus-limited regions of the oceans where E. huxleyi dominates the phytoplankton assemblages. In each type of light intensity, elemental-carbon-to-phosphorus (C:P) and nitrogen-to-phosphorus (N:P) ratios decrease with increasing growth rate. These results suggest that coccolithophores could reallocate chemical elements and energy to synthesize macromolecules efficiently, which allows them to regulate their elemental content and growth rate to acclimate to changing environmental conditions.

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Deoxygenation enhances photosynthetic performance and increases N2 fixation in the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium under elevated pCO2

Effects of changed levels of dissolved O2 and CO2 on marine primary producers are of general concern with respect to ecological effects of ongoing ocean deoxygenation and acidification as well as upwelled seawaters. We investigated the response of the diazotroph Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS 101 after it had acclimated to lowered pO2 (~60 μM O2) and/or elevated pCO2 levels (HC, ~32 μM CO2) for about 20 generations. Our results showed that reduced O2 levels decreased dark respiration significantly, and increased the net photosynthetic rate by 66 and 89% under the ambient (AC, ~13 μM CO2) and the HC, respectively. The reduced pO2 enhanced the N2 fixation rate by ~139% under AC and only by 44% under HC, respectively. The N2 fixation quotient, the ratio of N2 fixed per O2 evolved, increased by 143% when pO2 decreased by 75% under the elevated pCO2. Meanwhile, particulate organic carbon and nitrogen quota increased simultaneously under reduced O2 levels, regardless of the pCO2 treatments. Nevertheless, changed levels of O2 and CO2 did not bring about significant changes in the specific growth rate of the diazotroph. Such inconsistency was attributed to the daytime positive and nighttime negative effects of both lowered pO2 and elevated pCO2 on the energy supply for growth. Our results suggest that Trichodesmium decrease its dark respiration by 5% and increase its N2-fixation by 49% and N2-fixation quotient by 30% under future ocean deoxygenation and acidification with 16% decline of pO2 and 138% rise of pCO2 by the end of this century.

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Effect of ocean acidification on the growth, response and hydrocarbon degradation of coccolithophore-bacterial communities exposed to crude oil

Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria, which can be found living with eukaryotic phytoplankton, play a pivotal role in the fate of oil spillage to the marine environment. Considering the susceptibility of calcium carbonate-bearing phytoplankton under future ocean acidification conditions and their oil-degrading communities to oil exposure under such conditions, we investigated the response of non-axenic E. huxleyi to crude oil under ambient versus elevated CO2 concentrations. Under elevated CO2 conditions, exposure to crude oil resulted in the immediate decline of E. huxleyi, with concomitant shifts in the relative abundance of Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria. Survival of E. huxleyi under ambient conditions following oil enrichment was likely facilitated by enrichment of oil-degraders Methylobacterium and Sphingomonas, while the increase in relative abundance of Marinobacter and unclassified Gammaproteobacteria may have increased competitive pressure with E. huxleyi for micronutrient acquisition. Biodegradation of the oil was not affected by elevated CO2 despite a shift in relative abundance of known and putative hydrocarbon degraders. While ocean acidification does not appear to affect microbial degradation of crude oil, elevated mortality responses of E. huxleyi and shifts in the bacterial community illustrates the complexity of microalgal-bacterial interactions and highlights the need to factor these into future ecosystem recovery projections.

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Photoinhibition of the picophytoplankter Synechococcus is exacerbated by ocean acidification

The marine picocyanobacterium Synechococcus accounts for a major fraction of the primary production across the global oceans. However, knowledge of the responses of Synechococcus to changing pCO2 and light levels has been scarcely documented. Hence, we grew Synechococcus sp. CB0101 at two CO2 concentrations (ambient CO2 AC:410 μatm; high CO2 HC:1000 μatm) under various light levels between 25 and 800 μmol photons m−2 s−1 for 10–20 generations and found that the growth of Synechococcus strain CB0101 is strongly influenced by light intensity, peaking at 250 μmol m−2 s−1 and thereafter declined at higher light levels. Synechococcus cells showed a range of acclimation in their photophysiological characteristics, including changes in pigment content, optical absorption cross section, and light harvesting efficiency. Elevated pCO2 inhibited the growth of cells at light intensities close to or greater than saturation, with inhibition being greater under high light. Elevated pCO2 also reduced photosynthetic carbon fixation rates under high light but had smaller effects on the decrease in quantum yield and maximum relative electron transport rates observed under increasing light intensity. At the same time, the elevated pCO2 significantly decreased particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate organic nitrogen (PON), particularly under low light. Ocean acidification, by increasing the inhibitory effects of high light, may affect the growth and competitiveness of Synechococcus in surface waters in the future scenario.

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Ocean acidification conditions and marine diatoms

Ocean acidification doesn’t just erode calcium carbonate shells. It can also slow the rate of diatoms to build their beautiful, intricate silica cell walls. Thinner walls mean lighter diatoms making the algae less able to transport carbon to the deep ocean. Diatoms are a key group of non-calcifying marine phytoplankton, responsible for ~40% of ocean productivity. Growth, cell size, and silica content are strong determinants of diatom resilience and sinking velocity; therefore, the effect of diatom species on ocean biogeochemistry is a function of its growth strategy, size, and frustule thickness. In natural environments, pH directly affects the diatom’s growth rate and therefore the timing and abundance of species. Consequently, understanding impacts of ocean acidification on diatom community structure is crucial for evaluating the sensitivity of biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem services in the world’s oceans.

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Response of juvenile Saccharina japonica to the combined stressors of elevated pCO2 and excess copper

Coastal macroalgae may be subjected to global and local environmental stressors, such as ocean acidification and heavy-metal pollution. We investigated the growth, photosynthetic characteristics, and biochemical compositions of juvenile sporophytes of Saccharina japonica cultivated at two pCO2 levels (400 and 1000 ppmv) and four copper concentrations (natural seawater, control; 0.2 μM, low level; 0.5 μM, medium level; and 1 μM, high level) to better understand how macroalgae respond to ongoing environmental changes. The results showed that the responses of juvenile S. japonica to copper concentrations depended on the pCO2 level. Under the 400 ppmv condition, medium and high copper concentrations significantly decreased the relative growth rate (RGR) and non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) but increased the relative electron transfer rate (rETR) and chlorophyll a (Chl a), chlorophyll c (Chl c), carotenoid (Car), and soluble carbohydrate contents. At 1000 ppmv, however, none of the parameters had significant differences between the different copper concentrations. Our data suggest that excess copper may inhibit the growth of juvenile sporophytes of S. japonica, but this negative effect could be alleviated by CO2-induced ocean acidification.

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Sediment-seawater exchange altered adverse effects of ocean acidification towards marine microalgae


  • Five marine microalgal species showed different sensitivities to OA.
  • OA promoted algal growth except I. galbana after introducing sediments.
  • N, P and Fe released from sediments mitigated OA-induced toxicity to E. huxleyi.
  • OA-induced algal community instability was alleviated by the presence of sediments.


Ocean acidification (OA) exhibits high threat to marine microalgae. However, the role of marine sediment in the OA-induced adverse effect towards microalgae is largely unknown. In this work, the effects of OA (pH 7.50) on the growth of individual and co-cultured microalgae (Emiliania huxleyiIsochrysis galbanaChlorella vulgarisPhaeodactylum tricornutum, and Platymonas helgolandica tsingtaoensis) were systematically investigated in the sediment-seawater systems. OA inhibited E. huxleyi growth by 25.21 %, promoted P. helgolandica (tsingtaoensis) growth by 15.49 %, while did not cause any effect on the other three microalgal species in the absence of sediment. In the presence of the sediment, OA-induced growth inhibition of E. huxleyi was significantly mitigated, because the released chemicals (N, P and Fe) from seawater-sediment interface increased the photosynthesis and reduced oxidative stress. For P. tricornutum, C. vulgaris and P. helgolandica (tsingtaoensis), the growth was significantly increased in the presence of sediment in comparison with those under OA alone or normal seawater (pH 8.10). For I. galbana, the growth was inhibited when the sediment was introduced. Additionally, in the co-culturing system, C. vulgaris and P. tricornutum were the dominant species, while OA increased the proportions of dominant species and decreased the community stability as indicated by Shannon and Pielou’s indexes. After the introduction of sediment, the community stability was recovered, but remained lower than that under normal condition. This work demonstrated the role of sediment in the biological responses to OA, and could be helpful for better understanding the impact of OA on marine ecosystems.

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Effects of ocean acidification and eutrophication on the growth and photosynthetic performances of a green tide alga Ulva prolifera

With the impact of fossil fuel burning and industrialization, atmospheric CO2 concentration will reach about 1000 ppmv in 2100, and more and more CO2 will be absorbed by ocean, resulting in ocean acidification. The Chinese coastal waters are showing unexpectedly high levels of acidification due to a combination of global ocean acidification and severe regional eutrophication, which is caused by natural accumulation or human activities such as aquacultural tail water input, potentially affecting macroalgal blooms. However, little is known about the combined effects of ocean acidification and entrophication on the eco-physiology of bloom-forming macroalgae. This study investigated Ulva prolifera, a dominant species causing green tide in the South Yellow Sea, and explored its growth and physiological responses under the combination conditions of ocean acidification and enriched nutrients. In this study, U. prolifera thalli were cultured under two CO2 conditions (air and 1000 μatm) and two nutrient conditions (High Nutrient, HN, 135 μmol L-1 N and 8.5 μmol L-1 P; Normal Nutrient, NN, 27 μmol L-1 N and 1.7 μmol L-1 P). The results showed that eutrophication conditions obviously enhanced the relative growth rate and photosynthetic performance of U. prolifera. Elevated pCO2 had no significant effect on U. prolifera growth and photosynthetic performance under normal nutrient conditions. However, under eutrophication conditions elevated pCO2 inhibited U. prolifera growth. Moreover, eutrophication conditions markedly improved the contents of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b and nitrate reductase activity and inhibited the soluble carbohydrate content, but elevated pCO2 had no significant effect on them under nutrient-replete conditions. In addition, elevated pCO2 significantly reduced the carotenoid content under eutrophication conditions and had no effect on it under normal nutrient conditions. These findings indicate that seawater eutrophication would greatly accelerate U. prolifera bloom, which may also be suppressed to a certain extent by ocean acidification in the future. The study can provide valuable information for predicting the future outbreaks of U. prolifera green tide in nearshore regions.

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Aquatic productivity under multiple stressors

Aquatic ecosystems are responsible for about 50% of global productivity. They mitigate climate change by taking up a substantial fraction of anthropogenically emitted CO2 and sink part of it into the deep ocean. Productivity is controlled by a number of environmental factors, such as water temperature, ocean acidification, nutrient availability, deoxygenation and exposure to solar UV radiation. Recent studies have revealed that these factors may interact to yield additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects. While ocean warming and deoxygenation are supposed to affect mitochondrial respiration oppositely, they can act synergistically to influence the migration of plankton and N2-fixation of diazotrophs. Ocean acidification, along with elevated pCO2, exhibits controversial effects on marine primary producers, resulting in negative impacts under high light and limited availability of nutrients. However, the acidic stress has been shown to exacerbate viral attacks on microalgae and to act synergistically with UV radiation to reduce the calcification of algal calcifiers. Elevated pCO2 in surface oceans is known to downregulate the CCMs (CO2 concentrating mechanisms) of phytoplankton, but deoxygenation is proposed to enhance CCMs by suppressing photorespiration. While most of the studies on climate-change drivers have been carried out under controlled conditions, field observations over long periods of time have been scarce. Mechanistic responses of phytoplankton to multiple drivers have been little documented due to the logistic difficulties to manipulate numerous replications for different treatments representative of the drivers. Nevertheless, future studies are expected to explore responses and involved mechanisms to multiple drivers in different regions, considering that regional chemical and physical environmental forcings modulate the effects of ocean global climate changes.

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Malformation in coccolithophores in low pH waters: evidences from the eastern Arabian Sea

Oceanic calcifying plankton such as coccolithophores is expected to exhibit sensitivity to climate change stressors such as warming and acidification. Observational studies on coccolithophore communities along with carbonate chemistry provide important perceptions of possible adaptations of these organisms to ocean acidification. However, this phytoplankton group remains one of the least studied in the northern Indian Ocean. In 2017, the biogeochemistry group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO) initiated a coccolithophore monitoring study in the eastern Arabian Sea (EAS). Here, we document for the first time a detailed spatial and seasonal distribution of coccolithophores and their controlling factors from the EAS, which is a well-known source of CO2 to the atmosphere. To infer the seasonality, data collected at three transects (Goa, Mangalore, and Kochi) during the Southwest Monsoon (SWM) of 2018 was compared with that of the late SWM of 2017. Apart from this, the abundance of coccolithophores was studied at the Candolim Time Series (CaTS) transect, off Goa during the Northeast Monsoon (NEM). The most abundant coccolithophore species found in the study region was Gephyrocapsa oceanica. A high abundance of G. oceanica (1800 × 103cells L−1) was observed at the Mangalore transect during the late SWM despite experiencing low pH and can be linked to nitrogen availability. The high abundance of G. oceanica at Mangalore was associated with high dimethylsulphide (DMS). Particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) and scattering coefficient retrieved from satellites also indicated a high abundance of coccolithophores off Mangalore during the late SWM of 2017. Interestingly, G. oceanica showed malformation during the late SWM in low pH waters. Malformation in coccolithophores could have a far-reaching impact on the settling fluxes of organic matter and also on the emissions of climatically important gases such as DMS and CO2, thus influencing atmospheric chemistry. The satellite data for PIC in the EAS indicates a high abundance of coccolithophore in recent years, especially during the warm El Nino years (2015 and 2018). This warrants the need for a better assessment of the fate of coccolithophores in high-CO2 and warmer oceans.

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Interaction of CO2 and light availability on photophysiology of tropical coccolithophorids (Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Ochosphaera sp.)

The study to examine the calcification rate, adaptation, and the biotic response of three tropical coccolithophorids (Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Ochosphaera sp) to changes in CO2 concentration. Three selected calcifying coccolitophorids were grown at batch culture with CO2 system at two levels of CO2 (385 and 1000 ppm) and two light dark periods. The parameters measured and calculation including growth rate, particulate organic carbon content, particulate inorganic carbon content, chlorophyll a, cell size, photosynthetic, organic, inorganic carbon production, photosynthesis, and calcification rate.  The results showed that there was a different response to carbonate chemistry changes and dark and light periods in any of the analyzed parameters.  The growth rate of three selected calcifying microalgae tested was decreasing significantly at high concentrations of CO2 (1000 ppm) treatment on 14:10 hour light: dark periods. However, there was no significant difference between the two CO2 concentrations where they were illuminated by 24 hours light in growth rate.  The increasing CO2 concentration and light-dark periods were species-specific responses to photosynthesis and calcification rate for three selected calcifying microalgae.

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Ocean acidification affects pigment concentration and photoprotection of marine phytoplankton

Ocean acidification produces significant changes on phytoplankton physiology that can affect their growth and primary production. Among them, a downregulation of the enzymatic activity and the production of different cellular metabolites, including chlorophyll a (Chl a), has been observed in high CO2 cultures under stable conditions. However, the extent of how phytoplankton metabolism regulation under high CO2 conditions affects pigment pools and patterns is unknown. This study shows the effect of the atmospheric CO2 increase on pigment concentration of three important marine primary producers: Thalassiosira pseudonanaSkeletonema costatum, and Emiliania huxleyi. Cultures grown under saturating photosynthetically active radiation were aerated for at least 3 weeks with current concentrations of atmospheric CO2 (0.04% CO2 in air) and with CO2 concentrations expected for future scenarios of climate change (0.1% CO2 in air) to assess the effect of CO2 under acclimated metabolism and stable conditions. Moreover, cultures were also subjected to a perturbation (4 h without aeration) to assess responses under non-stable conditions. The results showed that light harvesting and photoprotective pigment concentrations (i.e., Chl a, Chl c2, ββ-carotene, diadinoxanthin, diatoxanthin, fucoxanthin, among others) decreased significantly under high CO2 and stable conditions, but the response reversed after the perturbation. The de-epoxidation state of xanthophylls, also showed similar patterns, indicating an increase in phytoplankton sensitivity under high CO2 and stable conditions. The results demonstrate the relevance of CO2 concentration and acclimation status for phytoplankton light absorption and photoprotective response. They also identify fucoxanthin and Chl c2 as suitable biomarkers of phytoplankton carbon metabolism under ocean acidification conditions.

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Antagonism toxicity of CuO nanoparticles and mild ocean acidification to marine algae

Graphical abstract

The toxicity of CuO nanoparticles (NPs) to marine microalgae (Emiliania huxleyi) under ocean acidification (OA) conditions (pHs 8.10, 7.90, 7.50) was investigated. CuO NPs (5.0 mg/L) caused significant toxicity (e.g., 48-h growth inhibition, 20%) under normal pH (8.10), and severe OA (pH 7.50) increased the toxicity of CuO NPs (e.g., 48-h growth inhibition, 68%). However, toxicity antagonism was observed with a growth inhibition (48 h) decreased to 37% after co-exposure to CuO NPs and mild OA (pH 7.90), which was attributed to the released Cu2+ ions from CuO NPs. Based on biological responses as obtained from RNA-sequencing, the dissolved Cu2+ ions (0.078 mg/L) under mild OA were found to increase algae division (by 17%) and photosynthesis (by 28%) through accelerating photosynthetic electron transport and promoting ATP synthesis. In addition, mild OA enhanced EPS secretion by 41% and further increased bioavailable Cu2+ ions, thus mitigating OA-induced toxicity. In addition, excess Cu2+ ions could be transformed into less toxic Cu2S and Cu2O based on X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM), which could additionally regulate the antagonism effect of CuO NPs and mild OA. The information advances our knowledge in nanotoxicity to marine organisms under global climate change.

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Acclimatization of a coral-dinoflagellate mutualism at a CO2 vent

Ocean acidification caused by shifts in ocean carbonate chemistry resulting from increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations is threatening many calcifying organisms, including corals. Here we assessed autotrophy vs heterotrophy shifts in the Mediterranean zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Balanophyllia europaea acclimatized to low pH/high pCO2 conditions at a CO2 vent off Panarea Island (Italy). Dinoflagellate endosymbiont densities were higher at lowest pH Sites where changes in the distribution of distinct haplotypes of a host-specific symbiont species, Philozoon balanophyllum, were observed. An increase in symbiont C/N ratios was observed at low pH, likely as a result of increased C fixation by higher symbiont cell densities. δ13C values of the symbionts and host tissue reached similar values at the lowest pH Site, suggesting an increased influence of autotrophy with increasing acidification. Host tissue δ15N values of 0‰ strongly suggest that diazotroph N2 fixation is occurring within the coral tissue/mucus at the low pH Sites, likely explaining the decrease in host tissue C/N ratios with acidification. Overall, our findings show an acclimatization of this coral-dinoflagellate mutualism through trophic adjustment and symbiont haplotype differences with increasing acidification, highlighting that some corals are capable of acclimatizing to ocean acidification predicted under end-of-century scenarios.

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Effects of global environmental change on microalgal photosynthesis, growth and their distribution

Global climate change (GCC) constitutes a complex challenge posing a serious threat to biodiversity and ecosystems in the next decades. There are several recent studies dealing with the potential effect of increased temperature, decrease of pH or shifts in salinity, as well as cascading events of GCC and their impact on human-environment systems. Microalgae as primary producers are a sensitive compartment of the marine ecosystems to all those changes. However, the potential consequences of these changes for marine microalgae have received relatively little attention and they are still not well understood. Thus, there is an urgent need to explore and understand the effects generated by multiple climatic changes on marine microalgae growth and biodiversity. Therefore, this review aimed to compare and contrast mechanisms that marine microalgae exhibit to directly respond to harsh conditions associated with GCC and the potential consequences of those changes in marine microalgal populations. Literature shows that microalgae responses to environmental stressors such as temperature were affected differently. A stress caused by salinity might slow down cell division, reduces size, ceases motility, and triggers palmelloid formation in microalgae community, but some of these changes are strongly species-specific. UV irradiance can potentially lead to an oxidative stress in microalgae, promoting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or induce direct physical damage on microalgae, then inhibiting the growth of microalgae. Moreover, pH could impact many groups of microalgae being more tolerant of certain pH shifts, while others were sensitive to changes of just small units (such as coccolithophorids) and subsequently affect the species at a higher trophic level, but also total vertical carbon transport in oceans. Overall, this review highlights the importance of examining effects of multiple stressors, considering multiple responses to understand the complexity behind stressor interactions.

Continue reading ‘Effects of global environmental change on microalgal photosynthesis, growth and their distribution’

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