Posts Tagged 'physiology'

Ocean acidification affects pigment concentration and photoprotection of marine phytoplankton

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

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Differential effects of ocean acidification and warming on biological functioning of a predator and prey species may alter future trophic interactions


  • Multiple environmental stressors act upon multiple trophic levels.
  • Mollusc predator and prey respond differently to future climate scenarios.
  • Prey are negatively impacted physiologically and behaviourally.
  • Predators unaffected resulting in elevated predation risk for prey.
  • Potential for fundamental change in trophic interactions affecting biodiversity.


Independently, ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA) from increased anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide are argued to be two of the greatest threats to marine organisms. Increasingly, their interaction (ocean acidification and warming, OAW) is shown to have wide-ranging consequences to biological functioning, population and community structure, species interactions and ecosystem service provision. Here, using a multi-trophic experiment, we tested the effects of future OAW scenarios on two widespread intertidal species, the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and its predator Nucella lapillus. Results indicate negative consequences of OAW on the growth, feeding and metabolic rate of M. edulis and heightened predation risk. In contrast, Nucella growth and metabolism was unaffected and feeding increased under OAW but declined under OW suggesting OA may offset warming consequences. Should this differential response between the two species to OAW, and specifically greater physiological costs to the prey than its predator come to fruition in the nature, fundamental change in ecosystem structure and functioning could be expected as trophic interactions become disrupted.

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

Graphical abstract

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

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Sensitivity of the grooved carpet shell clam, Ruditapes decussatus (Linnaeus, 1758), to ocean acidification

This research investigated the possible impacts of ocean acidification on the grooved carpet shell clam Ruditapes decussatus as a model for commercially crucial marine bivalve species. Clams were collected from Lake Timsah on the Suez Canal coast, Ismailia, Egypt. They were then incubated in CO2-enriched seawater manipulated at four different CO2 concentrations: 420 ppm (ambient control) and 550, 750, and 1050 ppm. Calcification analysis was carried out using XRD and scanning electron microscope (SEM), highlighting a trend towards noticeable physical sensitivity to acidification. The antioxidant enzymatic activities [catalase (CAT)] were significantly different among different pCO2 (~ 20–23 µmol min−1 mg prot−1). Lipid peroxidation [malondialdehyde (MDA)] also showed a significant difference among treatments (0.21–0.23 nmol TBARS mg prot−1). Shell microstructure analysis showed periostracum distortion in the clam shell as pCO2 concentration increased at 1050 ppm. These results indicate that ocean acidification may exert an additional stress on bivalves through weakening their calcified shell making them more vulnerable to predators and affect their health and survival reducing production and economic value.

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Parental exposure to ocean acidification impacts gamete production and physiology but not offspring performance in Nematostella vectensis

Ocean acidification (OA) resulting from anthropogenic CO2 emissions is impairing the reproduction of marine organisms. While parental exposure to OA can protect offspring via carryover effects, this phenomenon is poorly understood in many marine invertebrate taxa. Here, we examined how parental exposure to acidified (pH 7.40) versus ambient (pH 7.72) seawater influenced reproduction and offspring performance across six gametogenic cycles (13 weeks) in the estuarine sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. Females exhibited reproductive plasticity under acidic conditions, releasing significantly fewer but larger eggs compared to ambient females after four weeks of exposure, and larger eggs in two of the four following spawning cycles despite recovering fecundity, indicating long-term acclimatization and greater investment in eggs. Males showed no changes in fecundity under acidic conditions, but produced a greater percentage of sperm with high mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP; a proxy for elevated motility), which corresponded with higher fertilization rates relative to ambient males. Finally, parental exposure to acidic conditions did not significantly influence offspring development rates, respiration rates, or heat tolerance. Overall, this study demonstrates that parental exposure to acidic conditions impacts gamete production and physiology but not offspring performance in N. vectensis, suggesting that increased investment in individual gametes may promote fitness.

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RNAi silencing of the biomineralization gene perlucin impairs oyster ability to cope with ocean acidification

Calcifying marine organisms, including the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), are vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA) because it is more difficult to precipitate calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Previous investigations of the molecular mechanisms associated with resilience to OA in C. virginica demonstrated significant differences in single nucleotide polymorphism and gene expression profiles among oysters reared under ambient and OA conditions. Converged evidence generated by both of these approaches highlighted the role of genes related to biomineralization, including perlucins. Here, gene silencing via RNA interference (RNAi) was used to evaluate the protective role of a perlucin gene under OA stress. Larvae were exposed to short dicer-substrate small interfering RNA (DsiRNA-perlucin) to silence the target gene or to one of two control treatments (control DsiRNA or seawater) before cultivation under OA (pH ~7.3) or ambient (pH ~8.2) conditions. Two transfection experiments were performed in parallel, one during fertilization and one during early larval development (6 h post-fertilization), before larval viability, size, development, and shell mineralization were monitored. Silenced oysters under acidification stress were the smallest, had shell abnormalities, and had significantly reduced shell mineralization, thereby suggesting that perlucin significantly helps larvae mitigate the effects of OA.

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Secretory and transcriptomic responses of mantle cells to low pH in the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Since the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) due to anthropogenic activities has increased at unprecedented rates. One-third of the atmospheric anthropogenic CO2 emissions are dissolved in the oceans affecting the chemical equilibrium of seawater, which in turn leads to a decrease in pH and carbonate ion (CO32−) concentration, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification (OA). This chemical disequilibrium can be detrimental to marine organisms (e.g., mollusks) that fabricate mineralized structures based on calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Most studies on the effect of reduced pH in seawater have been conducted on the early developmental stages of shell-building invertebrates, neglecting how adult individuals face OA stress. Here, we evaluate histological, secretory, and transcriptional changes in the mantle of adult oysters (Crassostrea gigas) exposure to ambient (8.0 ± 0.2) and reduced (7.6 ± 0.2) pH during 20 days. Most histological observations did not show differences in terms of mantle cell morphology. However, Alcian Blue/PAS staining revealed significant differences in the number of Alcian Blue positive cells in the mantle edge, suggesting a decrease in the secretory activity in this morphogenetic zone. Transcriptomic analysis revealed 172 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between mantle tissues from adult oysters kept in normal and reduced pH conditions. Almost 18% of the DEGs encode secreted proteins that are likely to be contributing to shell fabrication and patterning. 17 of 31 DEGs encoding secreted proteins correspond to oyster-specific genes, highlighting the fact that molluscan shell formation is underpinned by a rapidly evolving secretome. The GO analysis of DEGs encoding secreted proteins showed that they are involved in the cellular response to stimulus, response to stress, protein binding, and ion binding, suggesting these biological processes and molecular functions are altered by OA. This study demonstrates that histology and gene expression profiling can advance our understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying adult oyster tolerance to low pH conditions.

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Similarities in biomass and energy reserves among coral colonies from contrasting reef environments

Coral reefs are declining worldwide, yet some coral populations are better adapted to withstand reductions in pH and the rising frequency of marine heatwaves. The nearshore reef habitats of Palau, Micronesia are a proxy for a future of warmer, more acidic oceans. Coral populations in these habitats can resist, and recover from, episodes of thermal stress better than offshore conspecifics. To explore the physiological basis of this tolerance, we compared tissue biomass (ash-free dry weight cm−2), energy reserves (i.e., protein, total lipid, carbohydrate content), and several important lipid classes in six coral species living in both offshore and nearshore environments. In contrast to expectations, a trend emerged of many nearshore colonies exhibiting lower biomass and energy reserves than colonies from offshore sites, which may be explained by the increased metabolic demand of living in a warmer, acidic, environment. Despite hosting different dinoflagellate symbiont species and having access to contrasting prey abundances, total lipid and lipid class compositions were similar in colonies from each habitat. Ultimately, while the regulation of colony biomass and energy reserves may be influenced by factors, including the identity of the resident symbiont, kind of food consumed, and host genetic attributes, these independent processes converged to a similar homeostatic set point under different environmental conditions.

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Physiological and gene expression responses of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis to low pH and low dissolved oxygen

Graphical abstract.


  • Low pH and DO, alone or in combination, affected physiology and gene expression in mussels.
  • Low pH alone led to a decrease of all tested physiological parameters.
  • Low DO decreased the clearance rate, modulated haemocytes parameters, increased carbohydrates levels.
  • The combined effect of low pH and low DO could not be predicted by a simple arithmetic additive response.


The prevalence and frequency of hypoxia events have increased worldwide over the past decade as a consequence of global climate change and coastal biological oxygen depletions. On the other hand, anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and consequent accumulation in the sea surface result in a perturbation of the seawater carbonate system, including a decrease in pH, known as ocean acidification. While the effect of decreases in pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration is better understood, their combined effects are still poorly resolved. Here, we exposed adult mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) to two pHs (8.27 and 7.63) and DO concentrations (7.65 and 2.75 mg L−1) over 17 days in a full-factorial design. These levels correspond to extremes of the present natural variability and are relevant in the context of ocean acidification and hypoxia. No mortality was observed during the experiment. However, sublethal effects were observed for clearance and oxygen consumption rates, as well as total haemocytes count and haemocytes viability and gene expression in mussels exposed to the combination of low pH and low DO. Respiration and excretion rates were not significantly impacted by low pH and DO, alone or in combination. Overall, low pH alone led to a decrease in all tested physiological parameters while low DO alone led to a decline in clearance rate, haemocyte parameters and an increase in carbohydrate content. Both parameters led to up- or down-regulation of most of the selected genes. Not surprisingly, the combined effect of low pH and low DO could not be predicted by a simple arithmetic additive response at the effect level, highlighting more complex and non-linear effects.

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Investigation of the molecular mechanisms which contribute to the survival of the polychaete Platynereis spp. under ocean acidification conditions in the CO2 vent system of Ischia Island (Italy)

The continuous increase of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere due to anthropogenic activities is one of the most important factors that contribute to Climate Change and generates the phenomenon known as Ocean Acidification (OA). Research conducted at the CO2 vents of Castello Aragonese (Ischia, Italy), which represents a natural laboratory for the study of OA, demonstrated that some organisms, such as polychaetes, thrive under acidified conditions through different adaptation mechanisms. Some functional and ecological traits promoting tolerance to acidification in these organisms have been identified, while the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying acclimatisation or genetic adaptation are still largely unknown. Therefore, in this study we investigated epigenetic traits, as histone acetylation and methylation, in Platynereis spp. individuals coming from the Castello vent, and from a nearby control site, in two different periods of the year (November-June). Untargeted metabolomics analysis was also carried out in specimens from the two sites. We found a different profile of acetylation of H2B histone in the control site compared to the vent as a function of the sampling period. Metabolomic analysis showed clear separation in the pattern of metabolites in polychaetes from the control site with respect to those from the Castello vent. Specifically, a significant reduction of lipid/sterols and nucleosides was measured in polychaetes from the vent. Overall results contribute to better understand the potential metabolic pathways involved in the tolerance to OA.

Continue reading ‘Investigation of the molecular mechanisms which contribute to the survival of the polychaete Platynereis spp. under ocean acidification conditions in the CO2 vent system of Ischia Island (Italy)’

Impacts of rising temperatures and water acidification on the oxidative status and immune system of aquatic ectothermic vertebrates: a meta-analysis


  • CO2 emissions are driving increase in temperature and water acidification.
  • Meta-analysis implemented to assess impacts of CO2-stressors on ectotherms physiology.
  • High temperature and water acidification induce higher oxidative damage in ectotherms.
  • Early life stages are more capable than adults to upregulate antioxidant enzymes.
  • Oxidative status regulation underlies thermal acclimation.


Species persistence in the Anthropocene is dramatically threatened by global climate change. Large emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from human activities are driving increases in mean temperature, intensity of heatwaves, and acidification of oceans and freshwater bodies. Ectotherms are particularly sensitive to CO2-induced stressors, because the rate of their metabolic reactions, as well as their immunological performance, are affected by environmental temperatures and water pH. We reviewed and performed a meta-analysis of 56 studies, involving 1259 effect sizes, that compared oxidative status or immune function metrics between 42 species of ectothermic vertebrates exposed to long-term increased temperatures or water acidification (≥48 h), and those exposed to control parameters resembling natural conditions. We found that CO2-induced stressors enhance levels of molecular oxidative damages in ectotherms, while the activity of antioxidant enzymes was upregulated only at higher temperatures, possibly due to an increased rate of biochemical reactions dependent on the higher ambient temperature. Differently, both temperature and water acidification showed weak impacts on immune function, indicating different direction (increase or decrease) of responses among immune traits. Further, we found that the intensity of temperature treatments (Δ°C) and their duration, enhance the physiological response of ectotherms, pointing to stronger effects of prolonged extreme warming events (i.e., heatwaves) on the oxidative status. Finally, adult individuals showed weaker antioxidant enzymatic responses to an increase in water temperature compared to early life stages, suggesting lower acclimation capacity. Antarctic species showed weaker antioxidant response compared to temperate and tropical species, but level of uncertainty in the antioxidant enzymatic response of Antarctic species was high, thus pairwise comparisons were statistically non-significant. Overall, the results of this meta-analysis indicate that the regulation of oxidative status might be one key mechanism underlying thermal plasticity in aquatic ectothermic vertebrates.

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Multi-stress interplay: time and duration of ocean acidification modulate the toxicity of mercury and other metals

The current understanding of multi-stress interplay assumes stresses occur in perfect synchrony, but this assumption is rarely met in the natural marine ecosystem. To understand the interplay between non-perfectly overlapped stresses in the ocean, we manipulated different temporal scenarios of acidification and assessed their effect on mercury toxicity in a marine copepod. We found that the scenario of past acidification aggravated mercury toxicity, but personal and persistent acidification mitigated the toxicity. This is because personal and persistent acidification initiated the energy compensation to enhance growth and mercury efflux. To explore how general temporal scenarios of acidification affected multi-stress interplay, we conducted a meta-analysis on marine animals and found that scenarios significantly changed the toxicity of several other metals. Our study thus demonstrates that time and duration of stresses modulate multi-stress interplay in the marine ecosystem, and suggests that future studies should move beyond the scenario of perfect synchrony.

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Common sea star (Asterias rubens) coelomic fluid changes in response to short-term exposure to environmental stressors

Common sea stars (Asterias rubens) are at risk of physiological stress and decline with projected shifts in oceanic conditions. This study assessed changes in coelomic fluid (CF) blood gases, electrolytes, osmolality, and coelomocyte counts in adult common sea stars after exposure to stressors mimicking effects from climate change for 14 days, including decreased pH (−0.4 units, mean: 7.37), hypoxia (target dissolved oxygen ~1.75 mg O2/L, mean: 1.80 mg O2/L), or increased temperature (+10 °C, mean: 17.2 °C) and compared sea star CF electrolytes and osmolality to tank water. Changes in CF blood gases, electrolytes, and/or coelomocyte counts occurred in all treatment groups after stressor exposures, indicating adverse systemic effects with evidence of increased energy expenditure, respiratory or metabolic derangements, and immunosuppression or inflammation. At baseline, CF potassium and osmolality of all groups combined were significantly higher than tank water, and, after exposures, CF potassium was significantly higher in the hypoxia group as compared to tank water. These findings indicate physiological challenges for A. rubens after stressor exposures and, given increased observations of sea star wasting events globally, this provides evidence that sea stars as a broad group are particularly vulnerable to changing oceans.

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

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

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Proteomic and transcriptomic responses enable clams to correct the pH of calcifying fluids and sustain biomineralization in acidified environments

Seawater pH and carbonate saturation are predicted to decrease dramatically by the end of the century. This process, designated ocean acidification (OA), threatens economically and ecologically important marine calcifiers, including the northern quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria). While many studies have demonstrated the adverse impacts of OA on bivalves, much less is known about mechanisms of resilience and adaptive strategies. Here, we examined clam responses to OA by evaluating cellular (hemocyte activities) and molecular (high-throughput proteomics, RNASeq) changes in hemolymph and extrapallial fluid (EPF—the site of biomineralization located between the mantle and the shell) in M. mercenaria continuously exposed to acidified (pH ~7.3; pCO2 ~2700 ppm) and normal conditions (pH ~8.1; pCO2 ~600 ppm) for one year. The extracellular pH of EPF and hemolymph (~7.5) was significantly higher than that of the external acidified seawater (~7.3). Under OA conditions, granulocytes (a sub-population of hemocytes important for biomineralization) were able to increase intracellular pH (by 54% in EPF and 79% in hemolymph) and calcium content (by 56% in hemolymph). The increased pH of EPF and hemolymph from clams exposed to high pCO2 was associated with the overexpression of genes (at both the mRNA and protein levels) related to biomineralization, acid–base balance, and calcium homeostasis, suggesting that clams can use corrective mechanisms to mitigate the negative impact of OA.

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Combined effects of climate change stressors and predators with contrasting feeding-digestion strategies on a mussel species

Graphical abstract


  • Combined effects of climate change stressors and Predator Cues (PC) were evaluated.
  • Ocean Acidification (OA), Warming (OW) and PC affected mussel traits.
  • At the control temperature (15 °C), mussel byssal biogenesis increased with PC.
  • PC affected mussel size, wet mass and calcification rate.
  • The effects of starfish PC on some mussel traits were larger than those of snail PC.


We investigated the combined effects of Ocean Warming (OW), Acidification (OA) and predator cues (Non-Consumptive Effects; NCEs) of two predators with contrasting feeding-digestion strategies on the mussel Perumytilus purpuratus. We considered starfish-NCEs (partially external digestion) and snail-NCEs (internal digestion). Mussels were exposed for 13 weeks to cross-factored OA (~500 and ~1400 μatm, pCO2) and OW (~15 and ~20 °C) conditions, in the presence/absence of NCEs from one or both predators. Mussels exposed to both NCEs exhibited smaller length and buoyant weight growth than those under control or snail-NCEs conditions. Mussels exposed to starfish-NCEs exhibited smaller wet mass than control mussels. OW and starfish-NCEs in isolation or combined with snail-NCEs increased mussel oxygen consumption. Byssal biogenesis was affected by the three-factors interaction. Clearance rates were affected by the OW × OA interaction. We suggest that mainly starfish-NCEs, in isolation or interacting with OA or/and OW, can threat mussel traits and the associated community.

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Elevated CO2 reduces copper accumulation and toxicity in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana

The projected ocean acidification (OA) associated with increasing atmospheric CO2 alters seawater chemistry and hence the bio-toxicity of metal ions. However, it is still unclear how OA might affect the long-term resilience of globally important marine microalgae to anthropogenic metal stress. To explore the effect of increasing pCO2 on copper metabolism in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana (CCMP 1335), we employed an integrated eco-physiological, analytical chemistry, and transcriptomic approach to clarify the effect of increasing pCO2 on copper metabolism of Thalassiosira pseudonana across different temporal (short-term vs. long-term) and spatial (indoor laboratory experiments vs. outdoor mesocosms experiments) scales. We found that increasing pCO2 (1,000 and 2,000 μatm) promoted growth and photosynthesis, but decreased copper accumulation and alleviated its bio-toxicity to T. pseudonana. Transcriptomics results indicated that T. pseudonana altered the copper detoxification strategy under OA by decreasing copper uptake and enhancing copper-thiol complexation and copper efflux. Biochemical analysis further showed that the activities of the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase (GPX), catalase (CAT), and phytochelatin synthetase (PCS) were enhanced to mitigate oxidative damage of copper stress under elevated CO2. Our results provide a basis for a better understanding of the bioremediation capacity of marine primary producers, which may have profound effect on the security of seafood quality and marine ecosystem sustainability under further climate change.

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Response mechanism of harmful algae Phaeocystis globosa to ocean warming and acidification

Graphical abstract

Simultaneous ocean warming and acidification will alter marine ecosystem structure and directly affect marine organisms. The alga Phaeocystis globosa commonly causes harmful algal blooms in coastal areas of eastern China. P. globosa often outcompetes other species due to its heterotypic life cycle, primarily including colonies and various types of solitary cells. However, little is known about the adaptive response of P. globosa to ocean warming and acidification. This study aimed to reveal the global molecular regulatory networks implicated in the response of P. globosa to simultaneous warming and acidification. After exposure to warming and acidification, the phosphatidylinositol (PI) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways of P. globosa were activated to regulate other molecular pathways in the cell, while the light harvesting complex (LHC) genes were downregulated to decrease photosynthesis. Exposure to warming and acidification also altered the intracellular energy flow, with more energy allocated to the TCA cycle rather than to the biosynthesis of fatty acids and hemolytic substances. The upregulation of genes associated with glycosaminoglycan (GAG) degradation prevented the accumulation of polysaccharides, which led to a reduction in colony formation. Finally, the upregulation of the Mre11 and Rad50 genes in response to warming and acidification implied an increase in meiosis, which may be used by P. globosa to increase the number of solitary cells. The increase in genetic diversity through sexual reproduction may be a strategy of P. globosa that supports rapid response to complex environments. Thus, the life cycle of P. globosa underwent a transition from colonies to solitary cells in response to warming and acidification, suggesting that this species may be able to rapidly adapt to future climate changes through life cycle transitions.

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No effect of ocean acidification on growth, photosynthesis, or dissolved organic carbon release by three temperate seaweeds with different dissolved inorganic carbon uptake strategies

In a future ocean, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) release by seaweed has been considered a pathway for organic carbon that is not incorporated into growth under carbon dioxide (CO2) enrichment/ocean acidification (OA). To understand the influence of OA on seaweed DOC release, a 21-day experiment compared the physiological responses of three seaweed species, two which operate CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs), Ecklonia radiata (C. Agardh) J. Agardh and Lenormandia marginata (Hooker F. and Harvey) and one that only uses CO2 (non-CCM), Plocamium cirrhosum (Turner) M.J. Wynne. These two groups (CCM and non-CCM) are predicted to respond differently to OA dependent on their affinities for Ci (defined as CO2 + bicarbonate, HCO3). Future ocean CO2 treatment did not drive changes to seaweed physiology—growth, Ci uptake, DOC production, photosynthesis, respiration, pigments, % tissue carbon, nitrogen, and C:N ratios—for any species, regardless of Ci uptake method. Our results further showed that Ci uptake method did not influence DOC release rates under OA. Our results show no benefit of elevated CO2 concentrations on the physiologies of the three species under OA and suggest that in a future ocean, photosynthetic CO2 fixation rates of these seaweeds will not increase with Ci concentration.

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Population-specific vulnerability to ocean change in a multistressor environment

Variation in environmental conditions across a species’ range can alter their responses to environmental change through local adaptation and acclimation. Evolutionary responses, however, may be challenged in ecosystems with tightly coupled environmental conditions, where changes in the covariance of environmental factors may make it more difficult for species to adapt to global change. Here, we conduct a 3-month-long mesocosm experiment and find evidence for local adaptation/acclimation in populations of red sea urchins, Mesocentrotus franciscanus, to multiple environmental drivers. Moreover, populations differ in their response to projected concurrent changes in pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen. Our results highlight the potential for local adaptation/acclimation to multivariate environmental regimes but suggest that thresholds in responses to a single environmental variable, such as temperature, may be more important than changes to environmental covariance. Therefore, identifying physiological thresholds in key environmental drivers may be particularly useful for preserving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

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