Posts Tagged 'physiology'

Heritable variation and lack of tradeoffs suggest adaptive capacity in Acropora cervicornis despite negative synergism under climate change scenarios

Knowledge of multi-stressor interactions and the potential for tradeoffs among tolerance traits is essential for developing intervention strategies for the conservation and restoration of reef ecosystems in a changing climate. Thermal extremes and acidification are two major co-occurring stresses predicted to limit the recovery of vital Caribbean reef-building corals. Here, we conducted an aquarium-based experiment to quantify the effects of increased water temperatures and pCO2 individually and in concert on 12 genotypes of the endangered branching coral Acropora cervicornis, currently being reared and outplanted for large-scale coral restoration. Quantification of 12 host, symbiont and holobiont traits throughout the two-month-long experiment showed several synergistic negative effects, where the combined stress treatment often caused a greater reduction in physiological function than the individual stressors alone. However, we found significant genetic variation for most traits and positive trait correlations among treatments indicating an apparent lack of tradeoffs, suggesting that adaptive evolution will not be constrained. Our results suggest that it may be possible to incorporate climate-resistant coral genotypes into restoration and selective breeding programmes, potentially accelerating adaptation.

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An explanation based on energy-related changes for blue mussel Mytilus edulis coping with seawater acidification

As ocean acidification (OA) is gradually increasing, concerns regarding its ecological impacts on marine organisms are growing. Our previous studies have shown that seawater acidification exerted adverse effects on physiological processes of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, and the aim of the present study was to obtain energy-related evidence to verify and explain our previous findings. Thus, the same acidification system (pH: 7.7 or 7.1; acidification method: HCl addition or CO2 enrichment; experimental period: 21d) was set up, and the energy-related changes were assessed. The results showed that the energy charge (EC) and the gene expressions of cytochrome C oxidase (COX) reflecting the ATP synthesis rate increased significantly after acidification treatments. What’s more, the mussels exposed to acidification allocated more energy to gills and hemocytes. However, the total adenylate pool (TAP) and the final adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in M. edulis decreased significantly, especially in CO2 treatment group at pH 7.1. It was interesting to note that, TAP, ATP, and COXs gene expressions in CO2 treatment groups were all significantly lower than that in HCl treatment groups at the same pH, verifying that CO2-induced acidification exhibited more deleterious impacts on M. edulis, and ions besides H+ produced by CO2 dissolution were possible causes. In conclusion, energy-related changes in M. edulis responded actively to seawater acidification and varied with different acidification conditions, while the constraints they had at higher acidification levels suggest that M. edulis will have a limited tolerance to increasing OA in the future.

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Lipid remodeling reveals the adaptations of a marine diatom to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is recognized as a major anthropogenic perturbation of the modern ocean. While extensive studies have been carried out to explore the short-term physiological responses of phytoplankton to ocean acidification, little is known about their lipidomic responses after a long-term ocean acidification adaptation. Here we perform the lipidomic analysis of a marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum following long-term (∼400 days) selection to ocean acidification conditions. We identified a total of 476 lipid metabolites in long-term high CO2 (i.e., ocean acidification condition) and low CO2 (i.e., ambient condition) selected P. tricornutum cells. Our results further show that long-term high CO2 selection triggered substantial changes in lipid metabolites by down- and up-regulating 33 and 42 lipid metabolites. While monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) was significantly down-regulated in the long-term high CO2 selected conditions, the majority (∼80%) of phosphatidylglycerol (PG) was up-regulated. The tightly coupled regulations (positively or negatively correlated) of significantly regulated lipid metabolites suggest that the lipid remodeling is an organismal adaptation strategy of marine diatoms to ongoing ocean acidification. Since the composition and content of lipids are crucial for marine food quality, and these changes can be transferred to high trophic levels, our results highlight the importance of determining the long-term adaptation of lipids in marine producers in predicting the ecological consequences of climate change.

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Coral micro- and macro-morphological skeletal properties in response to life-long acclimatization at CO2 vents in Papua New Guinea

This study investigates the effects of long-term exposure to OA on skeletal parameters of four tropical zooxanthellate corals naturally living at CO2 seeps and adjacent control sites from two locations (Dobu and Upa Upasina) in the Papua New Guinea underwater volcanic vent system. The seeps are characterized by seawater pH values ranging from 8.0 to about 7.7. The skeletal porosity of Galaxea fascicularisAcropora millepora, massive Porites, and Pocillopora damicornis was higher (up to ~ 40%, depending on the species) at the seep sites compared to the control sites. Pocillopora damicornis also showed a decrease of micro-density (up to ~ 7%). Thus, further investigations conducted on this species showed an increase of the volume fraction of the larger pores (up to ~ 7%), a decrease of the intraskeletal organic matrix content (up to ~ 15%), and an increase of the intraskeletal water content (up to ~ 59%) at the seep sites. The organic matrix related strain and crystallite size did not vary between seep and control sites. This multi-species study showed a common phenotypic response among different zooxanthellate corals subjected to the same environmental pressures, leading to the development of a more porous skeletal phenotype under OA.

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Abundances and morphotypes of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi in southern Patagonia compared to neighbouring oceans and Northern Hemisphere fjords

Coccolithophores are potentially affected by ongoing ocean acidification, where rising CO2 lowers seawater pH and calcite saturation state (Ωcal). Southern Patagonian fjords and channels provide natural laboratories for studying these issues due to high variability in physical and chemical conditions. We surveyed coccolithophore assemblages in Patagonian fjords during late spring 2015 and early spring 2017. Surface Ωcal exhibited large variations driven mostly by freshwater inputs. High-Ωcal conditions (max. 3.6) occurred in the Archipelago Madre de Dios. Ωcal ranged from 2.0–2.6 in the western Strait of Magellan and 1.5–2.2 in the inner channel and was subsaturating (0.5) in Skyring Sound. Emiliania huxleyi was the only coccolithophore widely distributed in Patagonian fjords (> 96 % of total coccolithophores), only disappearing in the Skyring Sound, a semi-closed mesohaline system. Correspondence analysis associated higher E. huxleyi biomasses with lower diatom biomasses. The highest E. huxleyi abundances in Patagonia were in the lower range of those reported in Norwegian fjords. Predominant morphotypes were distinct from those previously documented in nearby oceans but similar to those of Norwegian fjords. Moderately calcified forms of E. huxleyi A morphotype were uniformly distributed throughout Patagonia fjords. The exceptional R/hyper-calcified coccoliths, associated with low Ωcal values in Chilean and Peruvian coastal upwellings, were a minor component associated with high Ωcal levels in Patagonia. Outlying mean index (OMI) niche analysis suggested that pH and Ωcal conditions explained most variation in the realized niches of E. huxleyi morphotypes. The moderately calcified A morphotype exhibited the widest niche breadth (generalist), while the R/hyper-calcified morphotype exhibited a more restricted realized niche (specialist). Nevertheless, when considering an expanded sampling domain, including nearby southeast Pacific coastal and offshore waters, even the R/hyper-calcified morphotype exhibited a higher niche breadth than other closely phylogenetically related coccolithophore species. The occurrence of E. huxleyi in naturally low pH–Ωcal environments indicates that its ecological response is plastic and capable of adaptation.

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Lithium elemental and isotope systematics of modern and cultured brachiopods: implications for seawater evolution

Lithium has proven a powerful tracer of weathering processes and chemical seawater evolution. Skeletal components of marine calcifying organisms, and in particular brachiopods, present promising archives of Li signatures. However, Li incorporation mechanisms and potential influence from biological processes or environmental conditions require a careful assessment. In order to constrain Li systematics in brachiopod shells, we present Li concentrations and isotope compositions for 11 calcitic brachiopod species collected from six different geographic regions, paralleled with data from culturing experiments where brachiopods were grown under varying environmental conditions and seawater chemistry (pH–pCO2, temperature, Mg/Ca ratio). The recent brachiopod specimens collected across different temperate and polar environments showed broadly consistent δ7Li values ranging from 25.2 to 28.1‰ (with mean δ7Li of 26.9 ± 1.5‰), irrespective of taxonomic rank, indicating that incorporation of Li isotopes into brachiopod shells is not strongly affected by vital effects related to differences among species. This results in Δ7Licalcite–seawater values (per mil difference in 7Li/6Li between brachiopod calcite shell and seawater) from −2.9‰ to −5.8‰ (with mean Δ7Licalcite–seawater value of −3.6‰), which is larger than the Δ7Licalcite–seawater values calculated based on data from planktonic foraminifera (~0‰ to ~−4‰). This range of values is further supported by results from brachiopods cultured experimentally. Under controlled culturing conditions simulating the natural marine environment, the Δ7Licalcite–seawater for Magellania venosa was −2.5‰ and not affected by an increase in temperature from 10 to 16 °C. In contrast, a decrease in Mg/Ca (or Li/Ca) ratio of seawater by addition of CaCl2 as well as elevated pCO2, and hence low-pH conditions, resulted in an increased Δ7Licalcite-seawater up to −4.6‰. Collectively, our results indicate that brachiopods represent valuable archives and provide an envelope for robust Li-based reconstruction of seawater evolution over the Phanerozoic.

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Biological effects of the antihypertensive losartan under different ocean acidification scenarios


  • Losartan was quantified in samples of marine water (up to 7.63 ng/L) and sediment (up to 3.10 ng/g).
  • Sediment spiked with an environmental concentration of losartan affected lysosomal stability.
  • Losartan effects were pH dependent and pH effects were dependent on the concentration of losartan.
  • Ocean acidification exacerbates the negative effects of losartan in waterborne exposure.


Since the last decade, several studies have reported the presence and effects of pharmaceutical residues in the marine environment, especially those of the antihypertensive class, such as losartan. However, there is little knowledge about the physiological effects of losartan in marine invertebrates regarding its behavior under possible coastal ocean acidification scenarios. The objective of this study was to evaluate biological effects on marine organisms at different levels of the biological organization caused by the compound losartan in water and sediment under coastal ocean acidification scenarios. Water and sediment samples were collected at five sites around the Santos Submarine Sewage outfall (SSO) and two sites around the Guarujá Submarine Sewage Outfall (GSO). Losartan was found in concentrations ranging from <LOD to 7.63 ng/L in water and from <LOQ to 3.10 ng/g in sediments. Statistical analysis showed interactive effects pH and losartan on the toxicity results. The water toxicity test with Echinometra lucunter embryos/larvae showed LOECs 50–100 mg/L, with values decreasing as the pH decreased. In the sediment assays, LOEC value for sea urchin embryo-larval development was 1.0 μg/g for all tested pHs. Regarding the lysosomal membrane stability assays with adult bivalves, a LOEC of 3000 ng/L was found for Perna perna in water exposure (both at pH 8.0 and 7.6). Effects for Mytella guyanensis were observed at environmentally relevant concentrations in sediment (LOEC = 3 ng/g at pH 8.0 and 7.6). This study demonstrated that coastal ocean acidification by itself causes effects on marine invertebrates, but can also increase the negative effects of losartan in waterborne exposure. There is a need to deepen the studies on the ecotoxicity of pharmaceutical residues and acidification of the marine environment.

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Combined effects of low pH and high water temperature conditions on oxidative stress and cell damage in juvenile olive flounder Paralichthys Olivaceus

The use of fossil fuels by anthropogenic activities causes ocean acidification and warming, and the combined conditions of these two environments can negatively affect fish metabolism, growth, and survival. Additionally, it can affect the antioxidant enzyme activity and cell damage caused by lipid peroxidation. In this study, we explores the adaptive potential for future marine conditions by investigating the stress and antioxidant enzyme activity, and apoptosis of juvenile olive flounder in an environment where ocean acidification and warming coexist. We found that juvenile olive flounder had increased oxidative stress and apoptosis under both warming and combined warming, and acidification conditions. Additionally, the effect on acidification under warming conditions does not seem to exceed the effect of high temperature conditions, and it is considered that the effect of acidification at low water temperatures is greater.

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Impact of dust addition on the metabolism of Mediterranean plankton communities and carbon export under present and future conditions of pH and temperature (update)

Although atmospheric dust fluxes from arid as well as human-impacted areas represent a significant source of nutrients to surface waters of the Mediterranean Sea, studies focusing on the evolution of the metabolic balance of the plankton community following a dust deposition event are scarce, and none were conducted in the context of projected future levels of temperature and pH. Moreover, most of the experiments took place in coastal areas. In the framework of the PEACETIME project, three dust-addition perturbation experiments were conducted in 300 L tanks filled with surface seawater collected in the Tyrrhenian Sea (TYR), Ionian Sea (ION) and Algerian basin (FAST) on board the R/V Pourquoi Pas? in late spring 2017. For each experiment, six tanks were used to follow the evolution of chemical and biological stocks, biological activity and particle export. The impacts of a dust deposition event simulated at their surface were followed under present environmental conditions and under a realistic climate change scenario for 2100 (ca. +3 C and −0.3 pH units). The tested waters were all typical of stratified oligotrophic conditions encountered in the open Mediterranean Sea at this period of the year, with low rates of primary production and a metabolic balance towards net heterotrophy. The release of nutrients after dust seeding had very contrasting impacts on the metabolism of the communities, depending on the station investigated. At TYR, the release of new nutrients was followed by a negative impact on both particulate and dissolved 14C-based production rates, while heterotrophic bacterial production strongly increased, driving the community to an even more heterotrophic state. At ION and FAST, the efficiency of organic matter export due to mineral/organic aggregation processes was lower than at TYR and likely related to a lower quantity/age of dissolved organic matter present at the time of the seeding and a smaller production of DOM following dust addition. This was also reflected by lower initial concentrations in transparent exopolymer particles (TEPs) and a lower increase in TEP concentrations following the dust addition, as compared to TYR. At ION and FAST, both the autotrophic and heterotrophic community benefited from dust addition, with a stronger relative increase in autotrophic processes observed at FAST. Our study showed that the potential positive impact of dust deposition on primary production depends on the initial composition and metabolic state of the investigated community. This impact is constrained by the quantity of nutrients added in order to sustain both the fast response of heterotrophic prokaryotes and the delayed one of primary producers. Finally, under future environmental conditions, heterotrophic metabolism was overall more impacted than primary production, with the consequence that all integrated net community production rates decreased with no detectable impact on carbon export, therefore reducing the capacity of surface waters to sequester anthropogenic CO2.

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Skeletal growth response of Porites coral to long-term ocean warming and acidification in the South China Sea


Identifying the response of corals to anthropogenic ocean warming and acidification remains challenging, but is critical to understanding coral resilience in a changing world. Here, we report composite records of skeletal growth (1847-2014) of nine Porites spp. colonies from the open ocean of the northern South China Sea (SCS), and paired reconstructions of sea surface temperature (SST) and seawater pH (pHsw) by examining skeletal Sr/Ca and δ11B from two of the cores. The reconstructions demonstrate that the open ocean of the northern SCS has experienced significant warming since the 1960s with an overall temperature elevation of ∼0.50 °C, and persistent acidification since the 1920s with a decline rate of −0.0102 ± 0.0017 pH units per decade. Under such environmental changes, coral skeletal density represents a long-term mild decline for the past 168 years, demonstrating significant responses to pHsw and SST variation; whereas coral extension and calcification appear to be less affected, exhibiting overall increases over the studied period. However, persistent declines of both parameters are evident from the 1960s to 2014, which coincide with the sustained low pHsw and elevated SST. Although the general response of coral calcification (mainly dominated by upward growth) to both warming and acidification falls just short of statistically significance over the decadal timescales, the significantly persistent decline in skeletal density and recent downtrends of calcification still underline a pessimistic situation for corals in the northern SCS.

Plain Language Summary

Coral reefs are particular susceptible to climate change, but our understanding of how corals cope with it remains insufficient. Here we explore the responses of coral calcification to climate changes, by comparing paired reconstructions of coral growth and seawater environment variations. To this end, we collected nine Porites corals from the Xisha Islands in the open ocean of northern South China Sea (SCS), and examined their skeletal density and growth rate. Meanwhile, we adopted two of the drillcores to generate sea surface temperature and pH reconstructions from skeletal Sr/Ca and δ11B. The reconstructions show that the open ocean of northern SCS has experienced long-term pH decline from the 1920s and significant warming since the 1960s. Under such environmental changes, we find that coral skeletal density are more susceptible to seawater pH and temperature variation, showing a long-term decline for the past 168 years. However, it appears that coral upward growth bears certain resistance to environmental changes, showing an overall increase over the studied period. Nevertheless, during the recent decades characterized by sustained low pHsw and elevated SST, we find that all the calcification parameters have begun to decline persistently, signifying a pessimistic situation for the corals in the northern SCS.

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Effects of ocean acidification on marine primary producers and related ecological processes under multiple stressors

Although the individual effects of ocean acidification (OA), warming, solar UV radiation, deoxygenation and heavy metal pollution on marine producers are well-studied, their interactive effects are still unclear, strongly limiting our ability to project the ecological consequences of ocean climate changes. This chapter aims to provide an overview of our understanding the eco-physiological effects of OA and its combination with warming, solar UV radiation, deoxygenation and heavy metals. While OA is known to enhance photorespiration in both diatoms and green macroalgae, it enhances growth of coastal diatoms and other macroalgae that are adapted to fluctuating diel pH changes and then potentially enhances its contribution to carbon sequestration in coastal waters. OA is supposed to decrease pelagic primary productivity under multiple stressors (e.g., in combination with ultraviolet radiation, deoxygenation, warming), especially in oligotrophic waters, due to insufficient repairing or improvising processes that require both macro- and trace nutrients for syntheses of required proteins. Under influences of OA, macroalgal communities would shift toward non-calcifying species; diatoms become less abundance in phytoplankton assemblages. OA decreases calcification in algal calcifiers and exposes them to more harmful UV radiation, leading to a further decline of photosynthesis. Therefore, both the magnitude and direction of response of microalgae and macroalgae to OA largely depend on the levels of other environmental drivers (e.g., warming, deoxygenation). OA also exerts tremendous impacts on marine food webs. Total fatty acids and the ratio of long-chain polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids of microalgae decrease, while some toxic secondary metabolites (such as phenolic compounds) accumulate under OA conditions, indicating a decline of food quality. This decline of food quality in primary producers can be transferred to secondary producers and negatively affect them (e.g., decrease in growth and reproduction). Taken together, OA can influence the biochemical compositions and contents in primary producers and their transfer to higher trophic levels and marine food webs is likely to be destabilized.

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Impacts of pH on the fitness and immune system of Pacific white shrimp

The atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) has been increasing dramatically since the beginning of the industrial revolution and about 30% of the CO2 produced by anthropogenic activities was absorbed by the ocean. This led to a perturbation of the seawater carbonate chemistry resulting in a decrease of the average surface ocean pH by 0.1 and termed ocean acidification (OA). Projections suggest that pCO2 may reach 900 μatm by the end of the twenty-first century lowering the average pH of the surface ocean by 0.4 units. The negative impacts of OA on many species of marine invertebrates such as mollusks, echinoderms, and crustaceans are well documented. However, less attention has been paid to the impacts of low pH on fitness and immune system in crustaceans. Here, we exposed Pacific white shrimps to 3 different pHs (nominal pH 8.0, 7.9, and 7.6) over a 100-days experiment. We found that, even though there were no significant effects on fitness parameters (survival, growth and allometries between length and weight), some immune markers were modified under low pH. A significant decrease in total hemocyte count and phenoloxidase activity was observed in shrimps exposed to pH 7.6 as compared to pH 8.0; and phagocytosis rate significantly decreased with decreasing pH. A significant increase in superoxide production was also observed at pH 7.6 as compared to pH 8.0. All these results suggest that a 100-days exposure to pH 7.6 did not have a direct effect on fitness but lead to a modulation of the immune response.

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Pilot study to investigate the effect of long-term exposure to high pCO2 on adult cod (Gadus morhua) otolith morphology and calcium carbonate deposition

To date the study of ocean acidification on fish otolith formation has been mainly focused on larval and juvenile stages. In the present pilot study, wild-captured adult Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) were exposed to two different levels of pCO2, 422µatm (ambient, low pCO2) or 1091µatm (high pCO2), for a period of 30 weeks (from mid-October to early April 2014–2015) in order to study the effects on otolith size, shape and CaCO3 crystallization amongst other biological parameters. We found that otoliths from cod exposed to high pCO2 were slightly smaller (− 3.4% in length; − 3.3% in perimeter), rounder (− 2.9% circularity and + 4% roundness) but heavier (+ 5%) than the low pCO2 group. Interestingly, there were different effects in males and females; for instance, male cods exposed to high pCO2 exhibited significant changes in circularity (− 3%) and roundness (+ 4%) compared to the low pCO2 males, but without significant changes on otolith dimensions, while females exposed to high pCO2 had smaller otoliths as shown for length (− 5.6%), width (− 2%), perimeter (− 3.5%) and area (− 4.8%). Furthermore, while the majority of the otoliths analysed showed normal aragonite deposition, 10% of fish exposed to 1091µatm of pCO2 had an abnormal accretion of calcite, suggesting a shift on calcium carbonate polymorph crystallization in some individuals under high pCO2 conditions. Our preliminary results indicate that high levels of pCO2 in adult Atlantic cod might affect otolith growth in a gender-specific way. Our findings reveal that otoliths from adult cod are affected by ocean acidification, and we believe that the present study will prompt further research into this currently under-explored area.

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Diel metabolism of Yellow Sea green tide algae alters bacterial community composition under in situ seawater acidification of coastal areas


  • Metabolism of algae mat leads to a diel pH and CO2 fluctuation in affected seawater.
  • Bacterial communities in diffusive boundary layer of the algae had a diel change.
  • Flavobacteriaceae was shown increased at night but sharp decreased at daytime.
  • Harmful algal bloom might influence coastal ocean acidification.


Ocean acidification in coastal seawaters is a complex process, with coastal pH being affected by numerous factors including watershed and biological processes that also support metabolically diverse bacterial communities. The world’s largest macroalgal blooms have occurred consecutively in the Yellow Sea over the last 13 years. In particular, algal mats formed by Yellow Sea green tides (YSGT) significantly influence coastal environments. Herein, we hypothesized that 1) inorganic carbonate chemistry in coastal areas is altered by diel metabolism of these giant algal mats and that 2) bacterial community composition in diffusive boundary layers might be altered along diel cycles due to algal mat metabolism. In situ studies indicated that algal mat metabolism led to changes in diel pH and CO2 in affected seawaters. Such metabolic activities could intensify diel pH fluctuations in algal mat diffusive boundary layers, as noted by pH fluctuations of 0.22 ± 0.01 units, and pCO2 fluctuations of 214.62 ± 29.37 μatm per day. In contrast, pH fluctuations of 0.11 ± 0.02 units and pCO2 fluctuations of 79.02 ± 42.70 μatm were noted in unaffected areas. Furthermore, the bacterial community composition associated with diffusive algal boundary layers, including those of ambient bacteria and epiphytic bacteria, exhibited diel changes, while endophytic bacterial communities were relatively stable. Flavobacteriaceae were particularly highly abundant taxa in the ambient and epiphytic bacterial communities and exhibited increased abundances at night but sharp decreases in abundances during daytime. Flavobacteriaceae are heterotrophic taxa that could contribute to coastal area acidification at night due to the transformation of organic carbon to inorganic carbon. These results provide new insights to understand the variability in coastal ocean acidification via harmful algal blooms while providing a framework for evaluating the effects of YSGT on costal carbon cycling.

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Ocean acidification alters the diversity and structure of oyster associated microbial communities


Host-associated microbial communities are fundamental to host physiology, yet it is unclear how these communities will respond to environmental disturbances. Here, we disentangle the environment-linked and host-linked effects of ocean acidification on oyster-associated microbial communities. We exposed adult oysters (Crassostrea virginica) to CO2-induced ocean acidification (400 vs. 2800 ppm) for 80 d. We measured the oyster extrapallial fluid pH and sampled the gills for microbial analysis at six time points. We found that different subsets of microbes were linked to acidification (n = 34 amplicon sequence variants [ASVs]) and to host response (n = 20 ASVs) with little overlap (n = 8 ASVs), suggesting that some members of the oyster microbiome were more responsive to environmental conditions while others were more tightly linked to host condition. Our results provide insight into which members of the oyster microbiome may contribute to the health and resistance of their host, and which members are the most vulnerable to changing environmental conditions.

Scientific Significance Statement

Understanding microbial responses to environmental disturbances is critical. However, in host-associated microbial communities, it is unclear whether microbial response to disturbance is linked to the environment, or if it is mediated via host response. We used Eastern oysters as a model to demonstrate that both environment- and host-linked factors influence the composition and structure of gill microbial communities exposed to ocean acidification. Remarkably, members of the microbiome linked directly to elevated pCO2 were different from those linked to the host’s physiological response. Disentangling the microbial community’s response to environmental disturbance from its response to the host’s reaction to that disturbance is essential to understand and predict the effect of global change drivers on host-associated microbial communities.

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Elasmobranch responses to experimental warming, acidification, and oxygen loss—a meta-analysis

Despite the long evolutionary history of this group, the challenges brought by the Anthropocene have been inflicting an extensive pressure over sharks and their relatives. Over exploitation has been driving a worldwide decline in elasmobranch populations, and rapid environmental change, triggered by anthropogenic activities, may further test this group’s resilience. In this context, we searched the literature for peer-reviewed studies featuring a sustained (>24 h) and controlled exposure of elasmobranch species to warming, acidification, and/or deoxygenation: three of the most pressing symptoms of change in the ocean. In a standardized comparative framework, we conducted an array of mixed-model meta-analyses (based on 368 control-treatment contrasts from 53 studies) to evaluate the effects of these factors and their combination as experimental treatments. We further compared these effects across different attributes (lineages, climates, lifestyles, reproductive modes, and life stages) and assessed the direction of impact over a comprehensive set of biological responses (survival, development, growth, aerobic metabolism, anaerobic metabolism, oxygen transport, feeding, behavior, acid-base status, thermal tolerance, hypoxia tolerance, and cell stress). Based on the present findings, warming appears as the most influential factor, with clear directional effects, namely decreasing development time and increasing aerobic metabolism, feeding, and thermal tolerance. While warming influence was pervasive across attributes, acidification effects appear to be more context-specific, with no perceivable directional trends across biological responses apart from the necessary to achieve acid-base balance. Meanwhile, despite its potential for steep impacts, deoxygenation has been the most neglected factor, with data paucity ultimately precluding sound conclusions. Likewise, the implementation of multi-factor treatments has been mostly restricted to the combination of warming and acidification, with effects approximately matching those of warming. Despite considerable progress over recent years, research regarding the impact of these drivers on elasmobranchs lags behind other taxa, with more research required to disentangle many of the observed effects. Given the current levels of extinction risk and the quick pace of global change, it is further crucial that we integrate the knowledge accumulated through different scientific approaches into a holistic perspective to better understand how this group may fare in a changing ocean.

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Ocean acidification alters anti-predator responses in a competitive dominant intertidal mussel


  • Intertidal mussels are affected by natural and anthropogenic stressors.
  • Combined effects of predation cues (PC) and ocean acidification (OA) were evaluated.
  • Combined effects of PC and OA reduced growth in mussels.
  • Calcification rates were driven by the interaction between PC and OA.
  • Byssus production in mussels increased with OA, in conditions without PC.
  • OA alters the natural response of mussels to predation risk.


Widespread intertidal mussels are exposed to a variety of natural and anthropogenic stressors. Even so, our understanding of the combined influence of stressors such as predation risk and ocean acidification (OA) on these species remains limited. This study examined the response of the purple mussel (Perumytilus purpuratus), a species distributed along Pacific southeastern rocky shores, to the effects of predation risk and OA. Using a laboratory 2 × 2 cross design, purple mussels were either devoid or exposed to predator cues from the muricid snail Acanthina monodon, while simultaneously exposing them to current (500 ppm) or projected OA conditions (1500 ppm). The response of purple mussels to these factors was assessed using growth, calcification, clearance, and metabolic rates, in addition to byssus production. After 60 d, the presence of predator cues reduced mussel growth in width and length, and in the latter case, OA enhanced this response making the effects of predator cues more severe. Calcification rates were driven by the interaction between the two stressors, whereas clearance rates increased only in response to OA, likely explaining some of the growth results. Mussel byssus production also increased with pCO2 but interacted with predation risk: in the absence of predator cues, byssus production increased with OA. These results suggest that projected levels of OA may alter and in some cases prevail over the natural response of purple mussels to predation risk. Considering the role played by this mussel as a dominant competitor and ecosystem engineer in rocky shores, these results have community-wide implications.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification alters anti-predator responses in a competitive dominant intertidal mussel’

Revisiting tolerance to ocean acidification: insights from a new framework combining physiological and molecular tipping points of Pacific oyster

Studies on the impact of ocean acidification on marine organisms involve exposing organisms to future acidification scenarios as projected for open ocean, which has limited relevance for coastal calcifiers. Characterization of reaction norms across a range of pH and identification of tipping points beyond which detrimental effects are observed has been limited and focus on only a few macro-physiological traits. Here we filled this knowledge gap by developing a framework to analyze the broad macro-physiological and molecular responses over a wide pH range of juvenile Pacific oyster, a model species for which the tolerance threshold to acidification remains unknown. We identify low tipping points for physiological traits at pH 7.3-6.9 that coincide with a major reshuffling in membrane lipids and transcriptome. In contrast, shell parameters exhibit effects with pH drop well before tipping points, likely impacting animal fitness. These findings were made possible by the development of an innovative methodology to synthesize and identify the main patterns of variations in large -omic datasets, fit them to pH and identify molecular tipping-points. We propose the application of our framework broadly to the assessment of effects of global change on other organisms.

Continue reading ‘Revisiting tolerance to ocean acidification: insights from a new framework combining physiological and molecular tipping points of Pacific oyster’

Simulating fish population responses to elevated CO2: a case study using winter flounder

Scaling experimentally derived effects of CO2 on marine fauna to population responses is critical for informing management about potential ecological ramifications of ocean acidification. We used an individual-based model of winter flounder to extrapolate laboratory-derived effects of elevated CO2 assumed for early life stages of fish to long-term population dynamics. An offspring module with detailed hourly to daily representations of spawning, growth, and mortality that incorporates potential elevated CO2 effects was linked to an annual time-step parent module. We calibrated the model using a 40 yr reference simulation (1977 to 2016) that included gradual warming and then performed ‘Retrospective’ simulations that assumed a suite of elevated CO2 effects by changing fertilization rate, mortality rate of embryos due to developmental malformations, larval growth rate, and size-at-settlement. ‘Recovery’ simulations that started at low population size were then used to further explore possible interactions between the effects of CO2 and warming on population productivity. Warming had a major negative effect on the simulated winter flounder population abundance, and reduced larval growth had the largest single impact among the CO2 effects tested. When a combination of the assumed CO2 effects was imposed together, average annual recruitment and spawning stock biomass were reduced by half. In the Recovery simulations, inclusion of CO2 effects amplified the progressively decreasing population productivity with warming. Our analysis is speculative and a first step towards addressing the need for extrapolating from laboratory effects of ocean acidification to broader, ecologically relevant scales.

Continue reading ‘Simulating fish population responses to elevated CO2: a case study using winter flounder’

Influence of seawater acidification on biochemical composition and oxidative status of green algae Ulva compressa


  • Seawater acidification improved primary productivity, pigments and carbon storage.
  • No significant change in the cellular redox status of U. compressa under acidification.
  • Elevated level of essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Possible benefits to U. compressa in future predicted acidified waters.


The sequestration of elevated atmospheric CO2 levels in seawater results in increasing acidification of oceans and it is unclear what the consequences of this will be on seaweed ecophysiology and ecological services they provide in the coastal ecosystem. In the present study, we examined the physiological and biochemical response of intertidal green seaweed Ulva compressa to elevated pCO2 induced acidification. The green seaweed was exposed to control (pH 8.1) and acidified (pH 7.7) conditions for 2 weeks following which net primary productivity, pigment content, oxidative status and antioxidant enzymes, primary and secondary metabolites, and mineral content were assessed. We observed an increase in primary productivity of the acidified samples, which was associated with increased levels of photosynthetic pigments. Consequently, primary metabolites levels were increased in the thalli grown under lowered pH conditions. There was also richness in various minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, indicating that the low pH elevated the nutritional quality of U. compressa. We found that low pH reduced malondialdehyde (MDA) content, suggesting reduced oxidative stress. Consistently we found reduced total antioxidant capacity and a general reduction in the majority of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants in the thalli grown under acidified conditions. Our results indicate that U. compressa will benefit from seawater acidification by improving productivity. Biochemical changes will affect its nutritional qualities, which may impact the food chain/food web under future acidified ocean conditions.

Continue reading ‘Influence of seawater acidification on biochemical composition and oxidative status of green algae Ulva compressa’

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