Posts Tagged 'photosynthesis'

Interaction of short-term copper pollution and ocean acidification in seagrass ecosystems: toxicity, bioconcentration and dietary transfer


• Toxicity and bioconcentration of copper in seagrasses were not affected by pH.
• Complex copper-pH interactions were observed in the seagrass photosynthesis.
• Seagrasses can act as a copper source in the food web via direct consumption.


We aimed to show how the predicted pH decrease in the ocean would alter the toxicity, bioconcentration and dietary transfer of trace metal copper on seagrass ecosystems, on a short-term basis. Seagrass Zostera noltei was exposed to two pH levels (8.36 and 8.03) and three copper levels (nominal concentrations, <3, 30 and 300 μg Cu L−1) in a factorial design during 21 days, while Gammarus locusta amphipods were continuously fed with the treated seagrass leaves. We found that the toxicity and bioconcentration of copper in seagrasses were not affected by pH, yet complex copper-pH interactions were observed in the seagrass photosynthesis. We demostrated that seagrasses can act as a copper source in the food web via direct consumption by herbivores. Future research need to investigate the interactive effects on a long-term basis, and to include biochemical and molecular endpoints to provide additional insights to the complex phisiological interactions observed.

Continue reading ‘Interaction of short-term copper pollution and ocean acidification in seagrass ecosystems: toxicity, bioconcentration and dietary transfer’

Ocean acidification and high irradiance stimulate growth of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila

Ecophysiological studies on Antarctic cryptophytes to assess whether climatic changes such as ocean acidification and enhanced stratification affect their growth in Antarctic coastal waters in the future are lacking so far. This is the first study that investigated the combined effects of increasing availability of pCO2 (400 and 1000 µatm) and irradiance (20, 200 and 500 μmol photons m−2 s−1) on growth, elemental composition and photophysiology of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila. Under ambient pCO2, this species was characterized by a pronounced sensitivity to increasing irradiance with complete growth inhibition at the highest light intensity. Interestingly, when grown under high pCO2 this negative light effect vanished and it reached highest rates of growth and particulate organic carbon production at the highest irradiance compared to the other tested experimental conditions. Our results for G. cryophila reveal beneficial effects of ocean acidification in conjunction with enhanced irradiance on growth and photosynthesis. Hence, cryptophytes such as G. cryophila may be potential winners of climate change, potentially thriving better in more stratified and acidic coastal waters and contributing in higher abundance to future phytoplankton assemblages of coastal Antarctic waters.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and high irradiance stimulate growth of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila’

pH variability exacerbates effects of ocean acidification on a Caribbean crustose coralline alga

Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are among the most sensitive marine taxa to the pH changes predicted with ocean acidification (OA). However, many CCA exist in habitats where diel cycles in pH can surpass near-future OA projections. The prevailing theory that natural variability increases the tolerance of calcifiers to OA has not been widely tested with tropical CCA. Here, we assess the response of the reef-building species Lithophyllum congestum to stable and variable pH treatments, including an ambient control (amb/stable). The amb/variable treatment simulated an ambient diel cycle in pH (7.65–7.95), OA/stable simulated constant low pH reflecting worst-case year 2100 predictions (7.7), and OA/variable combined diel cycling with lower mean pH (7.45–7.75). We monitored the effects of pH on total calcification rate and photophysiology (maximum quantum yield) over 16 weeks. To assess the potential for acclimatization, we also quantified calcification rates during the first (0–8 weeks), and second (8–16 weeks) halves of the experiment. Calcification rates were lower in all pH treatments relative to ambient controls and photophysiology was unaffected. At the end of the 16-week experiment, total calcification rates were similarly low in the amb/variable and OA/stable treatment (27–29%), whereas rates declined by double in the OA/variable treatment (60%). When comparing the first and second halves of the experiment, there was no acclimatization in stable treatments as calcification rates remained unchanged in both the amb/stable and OA/stable treatments. In contrast, calcification rates deteriorated between periods in the variable treatments: from a 16–47% reduction in the amb/variable treatment to a 49–79% reduction in the OA/variable treatment, relative to controls. Our findings provide compelling evidence that pH variability can heighten CCA sensitivity to reductions in pH. Moreover, the decline in calcification rate over time directly contrasts prevailing theory that variability inherently increases organismal tolerances to low pH, and suggests that mechanisms of tolerance may become limited with increasing time of exposure. The significant role of diel pH cycling in CCA responses to OA indicates that organisms in habitats with diel variability could respond more severely to rapid changes in ocean pH associated with OA than predicted by experiments conducted under static conditions.

Continue reading ‘pH variability exacerbates effects of ocean acidification on a Caribbean crustose coralline alga’

Grazers increase the sensitivity of coralline algae to ocean acidification and warming


  • Stimulation of the primary production and calcification of corallines by grazing
  • Different response of maerl between winter and summer conditions
  • High vulnerability of corallines to ocean acidification in the presence of grazers


Coralline algae are expected to be adversely impacted by ocean acidification and warming. Most research on these algae has involved experiments on isolated species, without considering species interactions, such as grazing. This myopic view is challenging because the impact of climate change on coralline algae will depend on the direct impacts on individual coralline species and the indirect effects of altered interactions with other species. Here, we tested the influence of grazing on the response of the coralline alga Lithothamnion corallioides to near-future ocean acidification and warming. Two three-month experiments were performed in the winter and summer seasons in mesocosms under crossed conditions of pCO2 (ambient and high pCO2) and temperature (ambient and +3 °C) in the presence and absence of grazers. In the winter, L. corallioides photosynthesis decreased with rising temperature in the presence of grazers, while calcification increased. It is likely that increased calcification may act as a structural protection to prevent damage from grazing. However, increasing calcification rates in the presence of grazers may be detrimental to other physiological processes, such as photosynthesis. In the summer, L. corallioides primary production, respiration, and calcification were higher in the presence of grazers than in their absence. Light calcification rates were reduced under high pCO2 in the presence of grazers only. Moreover, dark calcification rates were more adversely affected by pCO2 increase in the presence of grazers. Through their feeding activity, grazers may alter the structural integrity of thalli and increase the sensitivity of coralline algae to ocean acidification. Our results indicate that both season and grazing play a key role in the response of L. corallioides to acidification and warming. Seasonal variations and species interactions are thus critical to consider to make ecologically relevant predictions of the effects of future environmental changes.

Continue reading ‘Grazers increase the sensitivity of coralline algae to ocean acidification and warming’

Particulate inorganic to organic carbon production as a predictor for coccolithophorid sensitivity to ongoing ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) can induce shifts in plankton community composition, with coccolithophores being mostly negatively impacted. This is likely to change particulate inorganic and organic carbon (PIC and POC, respectively) production, with impacts on the biological carbon pump. Hence, assessing and, most importantly, understanding species‐specific sensitivities of coccolithophores is paramount. In a multispecies comparison, spanning more than two orders of magnitude in terms of POC and PIC production rates, among Calcidiscus leptoporus, Coccolithus pelagicus subsp. braarudii, Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Scyphosphaera apsteinii, we found that cellular PIC : POC was a good predictor for a species’ OA sensitivity. This is likely related to the need for cellular pH homeostasis, which is challenged by the process of calcification producing protons internally, especially when seawater pH decreases in an OA scenario. With higher PIC : POC, species and strains being more sensitive to OA coccolithophores may shift toward less calcified varieties in the future.

Continue reading ‘Particulate inorganic to organic carbon production as a predictor for coccolithophorid sensitivity to ongoing ocean acidification’

The physiological response of marine diatoms to ocean acidification: differential roles of seawater pCO2 and pH

Although increasing the pCO2 for diatoms will presumably down‐regulate the CO2‐concentrating mechanism (CCM) to save energy for growth, different species have been reported to respond differently to ocean acidification (OA). To better understand their growth responses to OA, we acclimated the diatoms Thalassiosira pseudonana, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and Chaetoceros muelleri to ambient (pCO2 400 μatm, pH 8.1), carbonated (pCO2 800 μatm, pH 8.1), acidified (pCO2 400 μatm, pH 7.8), and OA (pCO2 800 μatm, pH 7.8) conditions and investigated how seawater pCO2 and pH affect their CCMs, photosynthesis, and respiration both individually and jointly. In all three diatoms, carbonation down‐regulated the CCMs, while acidification increased both the photosynthetic carbon fixation rate and the fraction of CO2 as the inorganic carbon source. The positive OA effect on photosynthetic carbon fixation was more pronounced in C. muelleri, which had a relatively lower photosynthetic affinity for CO2, than in either T. pseudonana or P. tricornutum. In response to OA, T. pseudonana increased respiration for active disposal of H+ to maintain its intracellular pH, whereas P. tricornutum and C. muelleri retained their respiration rate but lowered the intracellular pH to maintain the cross‐membrane electrochemical gradient for H+ efflux. As the net result of changes in photosynthesis and respiration, growth enhancement to OA of the three diatoms followed the order of C. muelleri > P. tricornutum > T. pseudonana. This study demonstrates that elucidating the separate and joint impacts of increased pCO2 and decreased pH aids the mechanistic understanding of OA effects on diatoms in the future, acidified oceans.

Continue reading ‘The physiological response of marine diatoms to ocean acidification: differential roles of seawater pCO2 and pH’

Ocean warming drives decline in coral metabolism while acidification highlights species-specific responses

Ocean warming and acidification can have negative implications on coral reefs. This mechanistic study aims to evaluate the proximal causes of the observed negative response of Hawaiian corals to climate change scenarios. Net calcification (Gnet), gross photosynthesis, and dark respiration were measured in three species of Hawaiian corals across a range of temperature and acidification regimes using endpoint incubations. Calcification rates showed a curvilinear response with temperature, with the highest calcification rates observed at 26°C. Coral response to ocean acidification (OA) was species dependent and highly variable. OA enhanced calcification rates by 45% in the perforate coral, Montipora capitata, but had no short-term effect on the calcification or photosynthetic rates of imperforate corals, Pocillopora damicornis or Leptastrea purpurea. Further investigations revealed M. capitata to effectively dissipate protons (H+) while increasing uptake of bicarbonate (HCO−3), therefore maintaining high rates of Gnet under acute OA stress. This study demonstrates the first experimental evidence of the ability of a coral species to take advantage of increased dissolved inorganic carbon and overcome an increasing proton gradient in the boundary layer under OA conditions. These observed differences in coral metabolism may underlie the species-specific responses to climate change.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming drives decline in coral metabolism while acidification highlights species-specific responses’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book