Posts Tagged 'photosynthesis'

The potential of kelp Saccharina japonica in shielding Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas from elevated seawater pCO2 stress

Ocean acidification (OA) caused by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration is predicted to have negative impacts on marine bivalves in aquaculture. However, to date, most of our knowledge is derived from short-term laboratory-based experiments, which are difficult to scale to real-world production. Therefore, field experiments, such as this study, are critical for improving ecological relevance. Due to the ability of seaweed to absorb dissolved carbon dioxide from the surrounding seawater through photosynthesis, seaweed has gained theoretical attention as a potential partner of bivalves in integrated aquaculture to help mitigate the adverse effects of OA. Consequently, this study investigates the impact of elevated pCO2 on the physiological responses of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas in the presence and absence of kelp (Saccharina japonica) using in situ mesocosms. For 30 days, mesocosms were exposed to six treatments, consisting of two pCO2 treatments (500 and 900 μatm) combined with three biotic treatments (oyster alone, kelp alone, and integrated kelp and oyster aquaculture). Results showed that the clearance rate (CR) and scope for growth (SfG) of C. gigas were significantly reduced by elevated pCO2, whereas respiration rates (MO2) and ammonium excretion rates (ER) were significantly increased. However, food absorption efficiency (AE) was not significantly affected by elevated pCO2. The presence of S. japonica changed the daytime pHNBS of experimental units by ~0.16 units in the elevated pCO2 treatment. As a consequence, CR and SfG significantly increased and MO2 and ER decreased compared to C. gigas exposed to elevated pCO2 without S. japonica. These findings indicate that the presence of S. japonica in integrated aquaculture may help shield C. gigas from the negative effects of elevated seawater pCO2.

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A triple threat: ocean warming, acidification and rare earth elements exposure triggers a superior antioxidant response and pigment production in the adaptable Ulva rigida


  • La and Gd were accumulated in 24h;
  • Elimination of La and Gd did not occur in U. rigida;
  • La and Gd showed different accumulation and elimination patterns in future predicted scenarios;
  • La and Gd triggered an efficient antioxidant defence response in U. rigida;
  • REE and climate change exposure requested a superior antioxidant response.


Anthropogenic increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations will lead to a drop of 0.4 units of seawater pH and ocean warming up to 4.8°C by 2100. Contaminant’s toxicity is known to increase under a climate change scenario. Rare earth elements (REE) are emerging contaminants, that until now have no regulation regarding maximum concentration and discharge into the environment and have become vital to new technologies such as electric and hybrid-electric vehicle batteries, wind turbine generators and low-energy lighting. Studies of REE, namely Lanthanum (La) and Gadolinium (Gd), bioaccumulation, elimination, and toxicity in a multi-stressor environment (e.g., warming and acidification) are lacking. Hence, we investigated the algae phytoremediation capacity, the ecotoxicological responses and total chlorophyll and carotenoid contents in Ulva rigida during 7 days of co-exposure to La or Gd (15 µg L−1 or 10 µg L−1, respectively), and warming and acidification. Additionally, we assessed these metals elimination, after a 7-day phase. After one day of experiment La and Gd clearly showed accumulation/adsorption in different patterns, at future conditions. Unlikely for Gd, Warming and Acidification contributed to the lowest La accumulation, and increased elimination. Lanthanum and Gd triggered an adequate activation of the antioxidant defence system, by avoiding lipid damage. Nevertheless, REE exposure in a near-future scenario triggered an overproduction of ROS that requested an enhanced antioxidant response. Additionally, an increase in total chlorophyll and carotenoids could also indicate an unforeseen energy expense, as a response to a multi-stressor environment.

Continue reading ‘A triple threat: ocean warming, acidification and rare earth elements exposure triggers a superior antioxidant response and pigment production in the adaptable Ulva rigida’

Effects of seawater pCO2 on the skeletal morphology of massive Porites spp. corals

Ocean acidification alters the dissolved inorganic carbon chemistry of seawater and can reduce the calcification rates of tropical corals. Here we explore the effect of altering seawater pCO2 on the skeletal morphology of 4 genotypes of massive Porites spp. which display widely different calcification rates. Increasing seawater pCO2 causes significant changes in in the skeletal morphology of all Porites spp. studied regardless of whether or not calcification was significantly affected by seawater pCO2. Both the median calyx size and the proportion of skeletal surface occupied by the calices decreased significantly at 750 µatm compared to 400 µatm indicating that polyp size shrinks in this genus in response to ocean acidification. The coenosteum, connecting calices, expands to occupy a larger proportion of the coral surface to compensate for this decrease in calyx area. At high seawater pCO2 the spines deposited at the skeletal surface became more numerous and the trabeculae (vertical skeletal pillars) became significantly thinner in 2 of the 4 genotypes. The effect of high seawater pCO2 is most pronounced in the fastest growing coral and the regular placement of trabeculae and synapticulae is disturbed in this genotype resulting in a skeleton that is more randomly organised. The study demonstrates that ocean acidification decreases the polyp size and fundamentally alters the architecture of the skeleton in this major reef building species from the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

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The effects of ocean acidification on microbial nutrient cycling and productivity in coastal marine sediments

Ocean Acidification (OA), commonly referred to as the “other CO₂ problem,” illustrates the current rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels, precipitated in large by human-related activity (e.g., fossil fuel combustion and mass deforestation). The dissolution of atmospheric CO₂ into the surface of the ocean over time has reduced oceanic pH levels by 0.1 units since the start of the pre-industrial era and has resulted in wholesale shifts in seawater carbonate chemistry on a planetary scale. The chemical processes of ocean acidification are increasingly well documented, demonstrating clear rates of increase for global CO₂ emissions predicted by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) under the business-as-usual CO₂ emissions scenario. The ecological impact of ocean acidification alters seawater chemical speciation and disrupts vital biogeochemical cycling processes for various chemicals and compounds. Whereby the unidentified potential fallout of this is the cascading effects on the microbial communities within the benthic sediments. These microorganisms drive the marine ecosystem through a network of vast biogeochemical cycling processes aiding in the moderation of ecosystem-wide primary productivity and fundamentally regulating the global climate. The benthic sediments are determinably one of the largest and most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Marine sediments are also conceivably one of the most productive in terms of microbial activity and nutrient flux between the water-sediment interface (i.e., boundary layer). The absorption and sequestering of CO₂ from the atmosphere have demonstrated significant impacts on various marine taxa and their associated ecological processes. This is commonly observed in the reduction in calcium carbonate saturation states in most shell-forming organisms (i.e., plankton, benthic mollusks, echinoderms, and Scleractinia corals). However, the response of benthic sediment microbial communities to a reduction in global ocean pH remains considerably less well characterized. As these microorganisms operate as the lifeblood of the marine ecosystem, understanding their response and physiological plasticity to increased levels of CO₂ is of critical importance when it comes to investigating regional and global implications for the effects of ocean acidification.

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Seasonal quantification of carbonate dissolution and CO2 emission dynamics in the Indian Sundarbans estuaries

Shifts in carbonate dissolution can help understand the exchange of carbon dioxide between the air and water of estuarine systems. Adequate spatial coverage is required to understand these emission dynamics. Hence, the distribution of carbonate parameters in three estuaries covering a vast expanse of the Indian Sundarbans is described from total alkalinity (TA), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and pH data collected between 2016 and 2020. The seasonal impacts on inorganic carbon parameters were also studied by comparing pre-monsoon, monsoon, and post-monsoon data compiled from the study period. The estuaries showed the highest TA (up to 2506μmol kg −1) and DIC (up to 2203μmol kg −1) in the pre-monsoon. Both the parameters overall were positively associated with salinity. TA and DIC decreased by 369 and 208μmol kg −1, respectively, in the monsoon compared to pre-monsoon. From the monsoon to the post-monsoon, TA and DIC increased by 121 and 85μmol kg −1, respectively. Both showed strong positive associations with high chlorophyll- a and high dissolved oxygen in the post-monsoon suggesting an important role of primary production in the estuaries in raising the concentrations of inorganic carbon parameters. The carbonate mineral saturation states (ΩCa and ΩAr) followed the same pattern as that of TA and DIC. The pair was always supersaturated although freshwater influence caused the values to drop to close to saturation. While pCO2 was mostly supersaturated in the system relative to atmospheric concentration, it became minimal in the post-monsoon corresponding to heightened primary production. Despite high organic carbon recycling in mangroves, the system showed less expression in terms of CO2 emission in a seasonal cycle. Overall, the Indian Sundarbans estuarine system emitted low amounts of CO2 with its estimated water-to-air flux densities varying from 0.40 ± 0.61 (pre-monsoon) to 1.62 ± 1.74 mmol m−2h−1(monsoon).

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The diel and seasonal heterogeneity of carbonate chemistry and dissolved oxygen in three types of macroalgal habitats

As concerns about ocean acidification continue to grow, the importance of macroalgal communities in buffering coastal seawater biogeochemistry through their metabolisms is gaining more attention. However, studies on diel and seasonal fluctuations in seawater chemistry within these communities are still rare. Here, we characterized the spatial and temporal heterogeneity in diel and seasonal dynamics of seawater carbonate chemistry and dissolved oxygen (DO) in three types of macroalgal habitats (UAM: ulvoid algal mat dominated, TAM: turf algal mat dominated, and SC: Sargassum horneri and coralline algae dominated). Our results show that diel fluctuations in carbonate parameters and DO varied significantly among habitat types and seasons due to differences in their biological metabolisms (photosynthesis and calcification) and each site’s hydrological characteristics. Specifically, carbonate parameters were most affected by biological metabolisms at the SC site, and by environmental variables at the UAM site. Also, we demonstrate that macroalgal communities reduced ocean acidification conditions when ocean temperatures supported photosynthesis and thereby the absorption of dissolved inorganic carbon. However, once temperatures exceeded the optimum ranges for macroalgae, respiration within these communities exceeded photosynthesis and increased CO2 concentrations, thereby exacerbating ocean acidification conditions. We conclude that the seawater carbonate chemistry is strongly influenced by the metabolisms of the dominant macroalgae within these different habitat types, which may, in turn, alter their buffering capacity against ocean acidification.

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Coral symbiosis carbon flow: a numerical model study spanning cellular to ecosystem levels

Corals rely on a symbiotic relationship with algae (zooxanthellae), which reside in the host tissue and play a critical role for host metabolism through photosynthesis, respiration, carbon translocation, and calcification. These processes affect coral reefs on different scales from cellular to organismal and ecosystem levels. A process-based dynamic model was developed and coupled with a one-dimensional (1-D) biogeochemical model to describe coral photosynthesis, respiration, and carbon translocation at the cellular level, calcification and ion transport in different coral polyp components (i.e., coelenteron, calcifying fluid) at the organismal level; and the exchange of material between corals and the ambient seawater at the ecosystem level. Major processes controlling the carbon budget in internal symbiosis were identified. For the symbiont, photosynthesis is the primary carbon source and translocation to the host is the major sink. For the host, most of the carbon translocated from the symbiont is lost through mucus leakage. In the host dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool, most of the carbon is obtained from the surrounding seawater through uptake; photosynthesis and calcification are the major sinks of DIC. Based on a series of scenario studies, the model produced increase of photosynthesis rate with decline of calcification rate under higher air pCO2 and associated carbonate chemistry variabilities in different polyp components. The model results support the hypothesis that elevated pCO2 stimulates photosynthesis, resulting in a reduced supply of DIC to calcification. Such coupled models allow the exploration of process-based mechanisms, complementing laboratory and field studies.

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Kelp (Saccharina latissima) mitigates coastal ocean acidification and increases the growth of North Atlantic bivalves in lab experiments and on an oyster farm

Coastal zones can be focal points of acidification where the influx of atmospheric CO2 can be compounded by additional sources of acidity that may collectively impair calcifying organisms. While the photosynthetic action of macrophytes may buffer against coastal ocean acidification, such activity has not been well-studied, particularly among aquacultured seaweeds. Here, we report on field and laboratory experiments performed with North Atlantic populations of juvenile hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica), and blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) grown with and without increased CO2 and with and without North Atlantic kelp (Saccharina latissima) over a range of aquaculture densities (0.3 – 2 g L-1). In all laboratory experiments, exposure to elevated pCO2 (>1,800 µatm) resulted in significantly reduced shell- and/or tissue-based growth rates of bivalves relative to control conditions. This impairment was fully mitigated when bivalves were exposed to the same acidification source but also co-cultured with kelp. Saturation states of aragonite were transformed from undersaturated to saturated in the acidification treatments with kelp present, while the acidification treatments remained undersaturated. In a field experiment, oysters grown near aquacultured kelp were exposed to higher pH waters and experienced significantly faster shell and tissue based growth rates compared to individuals grown at sites away from kelp. Collectively, these results suggest that photosynthesis by S. latissima grown at densities associated with aquaculture increased pH and decreased pCO2, fostering a carbonate chemistry regime that maximized the growth of juvenile bivalves. As S. latissima has been shown to benefit from increased CO2, growing bivalves and kelp together under current or future acidification scenarios may be a synergistically beneficial integrated, multi-trophic aquaculture approach.

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The role of epiphytes in seagrass productivity under ocean acidification

Ocean Acidification (OA), due to rising atmospheric CO2, can affect the seagrass holobiont by changing the plant’s ecophysiology and the composition and functioning of its epiphytic community. However, our knowledge of the role of epiphytes in the productivity of the seagrass holobiont in response to environmental changes is still very limited. CO2 vents off Ischia Island (Italy) naturally reduce seawater pH, allowing to investigate the adaptation of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica L. (Delile) to OA. Here, we analyzed the percent cover of different epiphytic groups and the epiphytic biomass of P. oceanica leaves, collected inside (pH 6.9–7.9) and outside (pH 8.1–8.2) the CO2 vents. We estimated the contribution of epiphytes to net primary production (NPP) and respiration (R) of leaf sections collected from the vent and ambient pH sites in laboratory incubations. Additionally, we quantified net community production (NCP) and community respiration (CR) of seagrass communities in situ at vent and ambient pH sites using benthic chambers. Leaves at ambient pH sites had a 25% higher total epiphytic cover with encrusting red algae (32%) dominating the community, while leaves at vent pH sites were dominated by hydrozoans (21%). Leaf sections with and without epiphytes from the vent pH site produced and respired significantly more oxygen than leaf sections from the ambient pH site, showing an average increase of 47 ± 21% (mean ± SE) in NPP and 50 ± 4% in R, respectively. Epiphytes contributed little to the increase in R; however, their contribution to NPP was important (56 ± 6% of the total flux). The increase in productivity of seagrass leaves adapted to OA was only marginally reflected by the results from the in situ benthic chambers, underlining the complexity of the seagrass community response to naturally occurring OA conditions.

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Monsoon-driven biogeochemical dynamics in an equatorial shelf sea: time-series observations in the Singapore Strait


  • Multi-year time-series data show strong monsoonal seasonality.
  • River input from regional peatlands is a major driver of seasonal variation.
  • Light limitation likely modulates phytoplankton response to nutrient input.
  • Lower buffer capacity from peatland carbon remineralisation raises diel pH variation.


Coastal tropical waters are experiencing rapid increases in anthropogenic pressures, yet coastal biogeochemical dynamics in the tropics are poorly studied. We present a multi-year biogeochemical time series from the Singapore Strait in Southeast Asia’s Sunda Shelf Sea. Despite being highly urbanised and a major shipping port, the strait harbours numerous biologically diverse habitats and is a valuable system for understanding how tropical marine ecosystems respond to anthropogenic pressures. We observed strong seasonality driven by the semi-annual reversal of ocean currents: dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and phosphorus varied from ≤0.05 μmol l−1 during the intermonsoons to ≥4 μmol l−1 and ≥0.25 μmol l−1, respectively, during the southwest monsoon. Si(OH)4 exceeded DIN year-round. Based on nutrient concentrations, their relationships to salinity and coloured dissolved organic matter, and the isotopic composition of NOx, we infer that terrestrial input from peatlands is the main nutrient source. This input delivered dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen, but was notably depleted in dissolved organic phosphorus. In contrast, particulate organic matter showed little seasonality, and the δ13C of particulate organic carbon (−21.0 ± 1.5‰) is consistent with a primarily autochthonous origin. The seasonal pattern of the diel changes in dissolved O2 suggests that light availability controls primary productivity more than nutrient concentrations. However, diel changes in pH were greater during the southwest monsoon, when remineralisation of terrestrial DOC lowers the seawater buffer capacity. We conclude that terrestrial input results in mesotrophic conditions, and that the strait might undergo further eutrophication if nutrient inputs increase during seasons when light availability is high. Moreover, the remineralisation of terrestrial DOC within the Sunda Shelf may enhance future ocean acidification.

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Spatiotemporal distribution and environmental control factors of halocarbons in the Yangtze River Estuary and its adjacent marine area during autumn and spring


  • The source of air masses influenced volatile halocarbons (VHCs) levels in the air.
  • Spatiotemporal variations of VHCs in seawater and atmosphere were investigated.
  • Seasonal variations in VHCs concentrations were dependent on complex factors.
  • Ocean acidification and dust addition had an impact on the production of VHCs.


The oceanic production and release of volatile halocarbons (VHCs) to the atmosphere play a vital role in regulating the global climate. In this study, seasonal and spatial variations in VHCs, including trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11), methyl iodide (CH3I), dibromomethane (CH2Br2), and bromoform (CHBr3), and environmental parameters affecting their concentrations were characterized in the atmosphere and seawater of the Yangtze River Estuary and its adjacent marine area during two cruises from October 17 to October 26, 2019 and from May 12 to May 25, 2020. Significant seasonal variations were observed in the atmosphere and seawater because of seasonal differences in the prevalent monsoon, water mass (Yangtze River Diluted Water), and biogenic production. VHCs concentrations were positively correlated with Chl-a concentrations in the surface water during autumn. The average sea-to-air fluxes of CH3I, CH2Br2, and CHBr3 in autumn were 19.7, 4.0, and 7.6 nmol m−2 d−1, respectively, while those in spring were 6.3, 6.4, and −3.6 nmol m−2 d−1. In the ship-based incubation experiments, ocean acidification and dust deposition had no significant effects on VHCs concentrations. The concentrations of CH2Br2 and CHBr3 were significantly positively correlated with phytoplankton biomass under lower pH condition (M3: pH 7.9). This result indicated that CH2Br2 and CHBr3 concentrations were mainly related to the biological release.

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Coral calcification mechanisms in a warming ocean and the interactive effects of temperature and light

Ocean warming is transforming the world’s coral reefs, which are governed by the growth of marine calcifiers, most notably branching corals. Critical to skeletal growth is the corals’ regulation of their internal chemistry to promote calcification. Here we investigate the effects of temperature and light on the calcifying fluid chemistry (using boron isotope systematics), calcification rates, metabolic rates and photo-physiology of Acropora nasuta during two mesocosm experiments simulating seasonal and static temperature and light regimes. Under the seasonal regime, coral calcification rates, calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry, photo-physiology and metabolic productivity responded to both changes in temperature and light. However, under static conditions the artificially prolonged exposure to summer temperatures resulted in heat stress and a heightened sensitivity to light. Our results indicate that temperature and light effects on coral physiology and calcification mechanisms are interactive and context-specific, making it essential to conduct realistic multi-variate dynamic experiments in order to predict how coral calcification will respond to ocean warming.

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The combined effects of ocean acidification and copper on the physiological responses of the tropical coral Stylophora pistillata


  • Exposure to increased Cu concentrations suppressed coral calcification.
  • Calcification was suppressed further when exposed to Cu under high pCO2.
  • Respiration decreased after two weeks when stressors were applied in combination.


A decrease in ocean pH of 0.3 units will likely double the proportion of dissolved copper (Cu) present as the free metal ion, Cu2+, the most bioavailable form of Cu, and one of the most common marine pollutants. We assess the impact of ocean acidification and Cu, separately and in combination, on calcification, photosynthesis and respiration of sub-colonies of a single tropical Stylophora pistillata colony. After 15 days of treatment, total calcification rates were significantly decreased in corals exposed to high seawater pCO2 (∼1000-μatm, 2100 scenario) and at both ambient (1.6–1.9 nmols) and high (2.5–3.6 nmols) dissolved Cu concentrations compared to controls. The effect was increased when both stressors were combined. Coral respiration rates were significantly reduced by the combined stressors after 2 weeks of exposure, indicating the importance of experiment duration. It is therefore likely rising atmospheric CO2 will exacerbate the negative effects of Cu pollution to S. pistillata.

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Response of Cymodocea nodosa to ocean acidification and warming in the Canary Islands: direct and indirect effects


  • Ocean acidification increase growth and gross primary production of Cymodocea nodosa.
  • The rise of temperature limited the net and gross primary production of Cymodocea nodosa.
  • A positive effect of decrased pH on greater vulnerability to consumption by Paracentrotus lividus.
  • A future scenario of climate change will affect metabolic rates of C.nodosa.
  • Different responses to climate change have been observed by C. nodosa from Canary Islands.


As detected in warming and ocean acidification, global change can have profound impact on marine life. Its effects on seagrasses are becoming increasingly well-known, since several studies have focused on the responses of these species to global change conditions. However a few studies have assessed the combined effect of temperature and acidification on seagrasses. Overall in this study, the combined effects of increased ocean temperature and pH levels expected at the end of this century (+5 °C and pH 7.5) on Cymodocea nodosa from Canary Islands, were evaluated for one month through manipulative laboratory experiments. Growth, net production, respiration, gross primary production, chlorophyll-a concentration and its vulnerability to herbivory were quantified. Results showed a positive effect of decreased pH on growth and gross primary production, as well as greater vulnerability to consumption by the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. In contrast, increased temperature limited net and gross primary production. This study shows than in future scenarios, C. nodosa from the Canary Islands may be a losing species in the global change stakes.

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Temperature effects on leaf and epiphyte photosynthesis, bicarbonate use and diel O2 budgets of the seagrass Zostera marina L.

Ocean warming along with nutrient enrichment are major stressors causing global seagrass decline. While the effects of global warming on metabolic parameters in seagrasses are well described, the effect of increasing temperature on the epiphytic overgrowth of seagrass leaves and the consequences for the seagrass plant are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the effects of elevating temperature on the photosynthetic efficiency of the seagrass species Zostera marina L. and its associated epiphytes, to explore how ocean warming might affect epiphytism in seagrasses. Gas exchange and final pH measurements on bare seagrass leaves, leaves with epiphytes, and epiphytes separated from seagrass leaves were used to quantify photosynthesis and respiration rates, and the inorganic carbon extraction capacity of leaves and epiphytes as a function of photon scalar irradiance and temperature (12, 17, 22, and 27°C). Seagrass without epiphytic biofilm had a high ability to exploit the incoming irradiance regardless of the light intensity and temperature, shown as continuously high light use efficiency and maximum net photosynthesis rates. The presence of epiphytic biofilm on the seagrass leaves impaired plant photosynthesis by increasing light requirements and reducing the photosynthetic efficiency (especially at 27°C). Epiphytes showed the lowest respiration rates in darkness and had the highest oxygen surplus over diel cycles up to 22°C, whereas bare leaves had the highest diel oxygen surplus at 27°C. Both bare leaves and epiphytes lost the ability to utilize bicarbonate at 27°C, and epiphytes also did not show use of bicarbonate at 12°C. Our results indicate a competitive advantage for epiphytes in cold CO2-rich environments, whereas seagrass with bare leaves could be less affected under elevated seawater temperatures.

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In contrast to diatoms, cryptophytes are susceptible to iron limitation, but not to ocean acidification

Previous field studies in the Southern Ocean (SO) indicated an increased occurrence and dominance of cryptophytes over diatoms due to climate change. To gain a better mechanistic understanding of how the two ecologically important SO phytoplankton groups cope with ocean acidification (OA) and iron (Fe) availability, we chose two common representatives of Antarctic waters, the cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila and the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata. Both species were grown at 2°C under different pCO2 (400 vs. 900 μatm) and Fe (0.6 vs. 1.2 nM) conditions. For P. subcurvata, an additional high pCO2 level was applied (1400 μatm). At ambient pCO2 under low Fe supply, growth of G. cryophila almost stopped while it remained unaffected in P. subcurvata. Under high Fe conditions, OA was not beneficial for P. subcurvata, but stimulated growth and carbon production of G. cryophila. Under low Fe supply, P. subcurvata coped much better with OA than the cryptophyte, but invested more energy into photoacclimation. Our study reveals that Fe limitation was detrimental for the growth of G. cryophila and suppressed the positive OA effect. The diatom was efficient in coping with low Fe, but was stressed by OA while both factors together strongly impacted its growth. The distinct physiological response of both species to OA and Fe limitation explains their occurrence in the field. Based on our results, Fe availability is an important modulator of OA effects on SO phytoplankton, with different implications on the occurrence of cryptophytes and diatoms in the future.

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Interactive effects of acidification and copper exposure on the reproduction and metabolism of coral endosymbiont Cladocopium goreaui


  • Acidification raised growth by Fv/Fm, nutrient uptake and biomolecular biosynthesis.
  • Copper pollution alone decreased algal reproduction through toxic effects.
  • Combined stressor repressed reproduction through downregulated aromatic amino acid.
  • Abstract

Ocean acidification resulting from increased CO2 and pollution from land-sourced toxicants such as copper have been linked to coral cover declines in coastal reef ecosystems. The impacts of ocean acidification and copper pollution on corals have been intensively investigated, whereas research on their effects on coral endosymbiont Symbiodiniaceae is limited. In this study, reproduction, photosynthetic parameters, nutrient accumulation and metabolome of Symbiodiniaceae Cladocopium goreaui were investigated after a weeklong treatment with acute CO2-induced acidification and copper ion. Acidification promoted algal reproduction through increased nutrients assimilation, upregulated citrate cycle and biomolecular biosynthesis pathway, while copper exposure repressed algal reproduction through toxic effects. The combined acidification and copper exposure caused the same decline in algal reproduction as copper exposure alone, but the upregulation of pentose phosphate pathway and the downregulation of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis. These results suggest that copper pollution could override the positive effects of acidification on the symbiodiniacean reproduction.

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Influence of ocean warming and acidification on habitat-forming coralline algae and their associated molluscan assemblages


  • We assessed whether ocean warming and acidification impacts habitat-forming coralline algal turfs and their associated molluscan assemblages.
  • Ocean warming negatively impacted the cover and photosynthetic efficiency of coralline fronds.
  • Ocean acidification caused a 56% and a 59% reduction in the biomass and frond density of coralline turfs, respectively.
  • Ocean acidification caused a decrease in the richness and abundance of molluscs in coralline turfs by 43% and 61%, respectively.


When ocean warming and acidification impact habitat-forming species, substantial alterations to the supported ecological communities and associated ecosystems are likely to follow. Here, we used experimental manipulations to test the hypotheses that ocean warming and acidification would negatively affect habitat-forming coralline algal turfs and the diverse molluscan assemblages they support. Boulders covered in a turf of Amphiroa anceps with intact faunal assemblages were subjected to an orthogonal combination of current (~ 23 °C) and future (~ 26 °C) ocean temperatures, and current (~ 430 µatm) and future (~ 880 µatm) seawater pCO2. Ocean warming negatively impacted the cover and photosynthetic efficiency of Amphiroa fronds, whereas ocean acidification caused the biomass per unit area and the frond density of Amphiroa turf to be 56% and 59% less than current ocean conditions, respectively. Ocean acidification also caused a significant change in the structure of molluscan assemblages associated with Amphiroa turf, which included a 43% and a 61% reduction in the species richness and overall abundance of molluscs, respectively. The results demonstrate that coralline algal turfs are particularly vulnerable to ocean climate change, which has implications for the biodiversity and ecosystem functions supported by these globally distributed foundation species.

Continue reading ‘Influence of ocean warming and acidification on habitat-forming coralline algae and their associated molluscan assemblages’

Physiological acclimatization in Hawaiian corals following a 22-month shift in baseline seawater temperature and pH

Climate change poses a major threat to coral reefs. We conducted an outdoor 22-month experiment to investigate if coral could not just survive, but also physiologically cope, with chronic ocean warming and acidification conditions expected later this century under the Paris Climate Agreement. We recorded survivorship and measured eleven phenotypic traits to evaluate the holobiont responses of Hawaiian coral: color, Symbiodiniaceae density, calcification, photosynthesis, respiration, total organic carbon flux, carbon budget, biomass, lipids, protein, and maximum Artemia capture rate. Survivorship was lowest in Montipora capitata and only some survivors were able to meet metabolic demand and physiologically cope with future ocean conditions. Most M. capitata survivors bleached through loss of chlorophyll pigments and simultaneously experienced increased respiration rates and negative carbon budgets due to a 236% increase in total organic carbon losses under combined future ocean conditions. Porites compressa and Porites lobata had the highest survivorship and coped well under future ocean conditions with positive calcification and increased biomass, maintenance of lipids, and the capacity to exceed their metabolic demand through photosynthesis and heterotrophy. Thus, our findings show that significant biological diversity within resilient corals like Porites, and some genotypes of sensitive species, will persist this century provided atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are controlled. Since Porites corals are ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans and often major reef builders, the persistence of this resilient genus provides hope for future reef ecosystem function globally.

Continue reading ‘Physiological acclimatization in Hawaiian corals following a 22-month shift in baseline seawater temperature and pH’

Effects of elevated pCO2 on the photosynthetic performance of the sea ice diatoms Navicula directa and Navicula glaciei

Sea ice algal communities are generally dominated by pennate diatoms, which commonly occur at the ice-water interface and in brine channels. They also make a significant contribution to higher trophic levels associated with sea ice habitats. Here, the photosynthetic responses of two sea ice diatom species, Navicula directa and Navicula glaciei, to changes in pCO2 under controlled laboratory conditions were compared. pCO2 (390 ppm and 750 ppm) was manipulated to simulate a shift from present levels (1990) to predicted “IPCC year 2100 worst-case scenario” levels. To investigate these effects, a pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM) fluorometer was used to measure the photosynthetic performance. The ability of the sea ice algae to grow and photosynthesize within physio-chemical gradients in the sea ice suggests that both sea ice species are likely to be well adapted to cope with changes in pCO2 concentrations. Lower pH and higher pCO2 for 7 days resulted in increased biomass, especially for N. directa. However, a decline in photosynthetic capacity (rETRmax) was observed for both species (highest value 11.375 ± 0.163, control; and 8.322 ± 1.282, treatment). Navicula glaciei showed significant effects of elevated pCO2 (p < 0.05) on its photosynthetic response, while N. directa did not. Future changes in CO2 and pH may thus not significantly affect all diatoms but may lead to changes in the photosynthetic activities in some species.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated pCO2 on the photosynthetic performance of the sea ice diatoms Navicula directa and Navicula glaciei’

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