Posts Tagged 'physiology'

Ocean acidification interacts with variable light to decrease growth but increase particulate organic nitrogen production in a diatom


• Variable light decreased growth rate and pigmentation contents in both LC and HC.

• Cells grown under variable light appeared more tolerant of high light.

• HC and varying light decreased carbon fixation rate but increased POC and PON.

• HC and varying light lead to less primary productivity but more PON per biomass.


Phytoplankton in the upper oceans are exposed to changing light levels due to mixing, diurnal solar cycles and weather conditions. Consequently, effects of ocean acidification are superimposed upon responses to variable light levels. We therefore grew a model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana under either constant or variable light but at the same daily photon dose, with current low (400 μatm, LC) and future high CO2 (1000 μatm, HC) treatments. Variable light, compared with the constant light regime, decreased the growth rate, Chl a, Chl c, and carotenoid contents under both LC and HC conditions. Cells grown under variable light appeared more tolerant of high light as indicated by higher maximum relative electron transport rate and saturation light. Light variation interacted with high CO2/lowered pH to decrease the carbon fixation rate, but increased particulate organic carbon (POC) and particularly nitrogen (PON) per cell, which drove a decrease in C/N ratio, reflecting changes in the efficiency of energy transfer from photo-chemistry to net biomass production. Our results imply that elevated pCO2 under varying light conditions can lead to less primary productivity but more PON per biomass of the diatom, which might improve the food quality of diatoms and thereby influence biogeochemical nitrogen cycles.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification interacts with variable light to decrease growth but increase particulate organic nitrogen production in a diatom’

Near-future ocean warming and acidification alter foraging behaviour, locomotion, and metabolic rate in a keystone marine mollusc

Environmentally-induced changes in fitness are mediated by direct effects on physiology and behaviour, which are tightly linked. We investigated how predicted ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA) affect key ecological behaviours (locomotion speed and foraging success) and metabolic rate of a keystone marine mollusc, the sea hare Stylocheilus striatus, a specialist grazer of the toxic cyanobacterium Lyngbya majuscula. We acclimated sea hares to OW and/or OA across three developmental stages (metamorphic, juvenile, and adult) or as adults only, and compare these to sea hares maintained under current-day conditions. Generally, locomotion speed and time to locate food were reduced ~1.5- to 2-fold when the stressors (OW or OA) were experienced in isolation, but reduced ~3-fold when combined. Decision-making was also severely altered, with correct foraging choice nearly 40% lower under combined stressors. Metabolic rate appeared to acclimate to the stressors in isolation, but was significantly elevated under combined stressors. Overall, sea hares that developed under OW and/or OA exhibited a less severe impact, indicating beneficial phenotypic plasticity. Reduced foraging success coupled with increased metabolic demands may impact fitness in this species and highlight potentially large ecological consequences under unabated OW and OA, namely in regulating toxic cyanobacteria blooms on coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Near-future ocean warming and acidification alter foraging behaviour, locomotion, and metabolic rate in a keystone marine mollusc’

Characterization of marine teleost ionocytes in the gill, skin, and inner ear epithelia and their implications for ocean acidification

Ionocytes are specialized epithelial cells that excrete or absorb ions across an epithelium to regulate ionic, osmotic and acid-base levels in internal fluids. These ionocytes perform a wide range of functions (e.g. osmoregulation, pH regulation, and calcification) across various organs (e.g. gill, skin, inner ear). As atmospheric CO2 levels rise and oceanic pH levels fall, teleosts may increase their investment on ionocytes to survive in future ocean conditions. But generally speaking, the gill, skin, and inner ear ionocytes within marine teleost are not well characterized. This dissertation contains research spanning five southern Californian teleosts: the Blacksmith Chromis punctipinnis, the Yellowfin Tuna Thunnus albacares, the White Seabass Atractoscion nobilis, the Pacific Mackerel Scomber japonicus, and the Splitnose Rockfish Sebastes diploproa. In Chapter II, I investigated the individual and group behavioral responses of the Blacksmith, a temperate damselfish, after exposure to CO2-induced low-pH conditions. In Chapter III, I describe a novel technique used to quantify skin ionocytes in larval fishes. In Chapter IV, I applied the Chapter III’s technique to document developmental patterns in the skin and gill ionocytes of larval Yellowfin Tuna. In Chapter V, I investigated larval White Seabass response to hypercapnia by monitoring oxygen consumption rate and quantifying ionocyte abundance and relative ionocyte area across development. In Chapter VI, I characterized two types of inner ear ionocytes responsible for otolith calcification in the Pacific Mackerel. In Chapter VII, I investigated whether future CO2 /pH conditions would affect the gill and inner ear ionocytes of Splitnose Rockfish. Altogether, this work across the multiple teleosts demonstrates that ionocytes 1) have the plasticity to respond to external pH stress, 2) are sufficient to maintain internal homeostasis despite significant differences in CO2/pH levels, and 3) differ greatly in protein, morphology, and function depending on the tissue in question.

Continue reading ‘Characterization of marine teleost ionocytes in the gill, skin, and inner ear epithelia and their implications for ocean acidification’

Biochemical and physiological responses of two clam species to Triclosan combined with climate change scenario


• Triclosan bioaccumulation was enhanced under forecasted climate change conditions.

• Triclosan strongly affected clams’ antioxidant defences.

• Cellular damage was prevented by enzymatic and behaviour defence mechanisms.

• Greater response of the Manila clam to TCS exposure combined with climate change scenario.


Ocean acidification and warming are among the man-induced factors that most likely impact aquatic wildlife worldwide. Besides effects caused by temperature rise and lowered pH conditions, chemicals of current use can also adversely affect aquatic organisms. Both climate change and emerging pollutants, including toxic impacts in marine invertebrates, have been investigated in recent years. However, less information is available on the combined effects of these physical and chemical stressors that, in nature, occur simultaneously. Thus, this study contrasts the effects caused by the antimicrobial agent and plastic additive, Triclosan (TCS) in the related clams Ruditapes philippinarum (invasive) and Ruditapes decussatus (native) and evaluates if the impacts are influenced by combined temperature and pH modifications. Organisms were acclimated for 30 days at two conditions (control: 17 °C; pH 8.1 and climate change scenario: 20 °C, pH 7.7) in the absence of the drug (experimental period I) followed by a 7 days exposure under the same water physical parameters but either in absence (unexposed) or presence of TCS at 1 μg/L (experimental period II). Biochemical responses covering metabolic, oxidative defences and damage-related biomarkers were contrasted in clams at the end of experimental period II. The overall picture showed a well-marked antioxidant activation and higher TCS bioaccumulation of the drug under the forecasted climate scenario despite a reduction on respiration rate and metabolism in the exposed clams. Since clams are highly consumed shellfish, the consequences for higher tissue bioaccumulation of anthropogenic chemicals to final consumers should be alerted not only at present conditions but more significantly under predicted climatic conditions for humans but also for other components of the marine trophic chain.

Continue reading ‘Biochemical and physiological responses of two clam species to Triclosan combined with climate change scenario’

Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain

Despite the wide knowledge about prevalent effects of ocean acidification on single species, the consequences on species interactions that may promote or prevent habitat shifts are still poorly understood. Using natural CO2 vents, we investigated changes in a key tri-trophic chain embedded within all its natural complexity in seagrass systems. We found that seagrass habitats remain stable at vents despite the changes in their tri-trophic components. Under high pCO2, the feeding of a key herbivore (sea urchin) on a less palatable seagrass and its associated epiphytes decreased, whereas the feeding on higher-palatable green algae increased. We also observed a doubled density of a predatory wrasse under acidified conditions. Bottom-up CO2 effects interact with top-down control by predators to maintain the abundance of sea urchin populations under ambient and acidified conditions. The weakened urchin herbivory on a seagrass that was subjected to an intense fish herbivory at vents compensates the overall herbivory pressure on the habitat-forming seagrass. Overall plasticity of the studied system components may contribute to prevent habitat loss and to stabilize the system under acidified conditions. Thus, preserving the network of species interactions in seagrass ecosystems may help to minimize the impacts of ocean acidification in near-future oceans.

Continue reading ‘Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain’

Diel-cycling seawater acidification and hypoxia impair the physiological and growth performance of marine mussels


• The combined effects of acidification and hypoxia on physiological performance of mussels were investigated.

• Diel fluctuating hypoxia and acidification had less impact on the internal environment of mussels compared with constant exposure.

• Mussels had higher growth performance under diel cycling acidification and hypoxia compared with constant exposure.

• Mussels showed stronger resistance to diel cycling seawater acidification and hypoxia than constant exposure.


Ocean acidification and hypoxia are concurrent in some coastal waters due to anthropogenic activities in the past decades. In the natural environment, pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) may fluctuate and follow diel-cycling patterns, but such effects on marine animals have not been comprehensively studied compared to their constant effects. In order to study the effects of diel-cycling seawater acidification and hypoxia on the fitness of marine bivalves, the thick shell mussels Mytilus coruscus were exposed to two constant levels of dissolved oxygen (2 mg/L, 8 mg/L) under two pH treatments (7.3, 8.1), as well as single diel fluctuating pH or DO, and the combined diel fluctuating of pH and DO for three weeks. The experimental results showed that constant acidification and hypoxia significantly reduced the extracellular pH (pHe) and condition index (CI) of mussels, and significantly increased HCO3−, pCO2 and standard metabolic rate (SMR). Diel fluctuating hypoxia and acidification also significantly reduced the pHe and CI, and significantly increased pCO2 and SMR, but had no significant effects on HCO3−. However, the diel-cycling acidification and hypoxia resulted in a higher CI compared to continuous exposure. In general, continuous and intermittent stress negatively impact the hemolymph and growth performance of mussels. However, mussels possess a little stronger resistance to diel-cycling seawater acidification and hypoxia than sustained stress.

Continue reading ‘Diel-cycling seawater acidification and hypoxia impair the physiological and growth performance of marine mussels’

Ocean acidification: fish physiology and behavior

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has led to increased levels of dissolved CO2 in the Earth’s oceans. This has generally decreased the pH of, or “acidified,” ocean water. Decreased pH, along with other chemical changes ultimately caused by an increase in dissolved CO2, could have direct effects on the physiology and behavior of fishes. (“Physiology” is the study of how an organism works; an organism’s physiology refers to the biological systems that allow it to function and respond to its environment.) Scientists have dedicated a lot of time and effort to studying the potential effects of OA on fish physiology and behavior. This publication will summarize the current state of our understanding on the topic, with special emphasis on Florida fishes. It will also address current challenges in understanding the real-world effects of a complex global process using data largely collected on isolated fish in laboratory experiments.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification: fish physiology and behavior’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book