Posts Tagged 'phytoplankton'

Environmental controls on the elemental composition of a Southern Hemisphere strain of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

A series of semi-continuous incubation experiments were conducted with the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi strain NIWA1108 (Southern Ocean isolate) to examine the effects of five environmental drivers (nitrate concentration, phosphate concentration, irradiance, temperature and pCO2) on both the physiological rates and elemental composition. Here, we report the alteration of the elemental composition of E. huxleyi in response to the changes in these environmental drivers. A series of dose response curves for the cellular elemental composition of E. huxleyi were fitted for each of the five drivers across an environmentally-representative gradient. The importance of each driver in regulating the elemental composition of E. huxleyi was ranked using a semi-quantitative approach. The percentage variation in elemental composition arising from the change in each driver between present day and model-projected conditions for the year 2100 were calculated. Temperature was the most important driver controlling both cellular particulate organic and inorganic carbon content, whereas nutrient concentrations were the most important regulator of cellular particulate nitrogen and phosphorus of E. huxleyi. In contrast, elevated pCO2 had the greatest influence on cellular particulate inorganic carbon to organic carbon ratio, resulting in a decrease in the ratio. Our results indicate that the different environmental drivers each play specific roles in regulating the cellular elemental composition of E. huxleyi with wide-reaching implications for coccolithophore biogeochemistry, as a consequence of the regulation of E. huxleyi physiological processes.

Continue reading ‘Environmental controls on the elemental composition of a Southern Hemisphere strain of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi’

The effects of pH and pCO2 on photosynthesis and respiration in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii

The response of marine phytoplankton to the ongoing increase in atmospheric pCO2 reflects the consequences of both increased CO2 concentration and decreased pH in surface seawater. In the model diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii, we explored the effects of varying pCO2 and pH, independently and in concert, on photosynthesis and respiration by incubating samples in water enriched in H218O. In long-term experiments (~6-h) at saturating light intensity, we observed no effects of pH or pCO2 on growth rate, photosynthesis or respiration. This absence of a measurable response reflects the very small change in energy used by the carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM) compared to the energy used in carbon fixation. In short-term experiments (~3 min), we also observed no effects of pCO2 or pH, even under limiting light intensity. We surmise that in T. weissflogii, it is the photosynthetic production of NADPH and ATP, rather than the CO2-saturation of Rubisco that controls the rate of photosynthesis at low irradiance. In short-term experiments, we observed a slightly higher respiration rate at low pH at the onset of the dark period, possibly reflecting the energy used for exporting H+ and maintaining pH homeostasis. Based on what is known of the biochemistry of marine phytoplankton, our results are likely generalizable to other diatoms and a number of other eukaryotic species. The direct effects of ocean acidification on growth, photosynthesis and respiration in these organisms should be small over the range of atmospheric pCO2 predicted for the twenty-first century.

Continue reading ‘The effects of pH and pCO2 on photosynthesis and respiration in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii’

Phytoplankton community responses to iron and CO2 enrichment in different biogeochemical regions of the Southern Ocean

The ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is causing rapid increases in seawater pCO2levels. However, little is known about the potential impacts of elevated CO2 availability on the phytoplankton assemblages in the Southern Ocean’s oceanic regions. Therefore, we conducted four incubation experiments using surface seawater collected from the subantarctic zone (SAZ) and the subpolar zone (SPZ) in the Australian sector of the Southern Ocean during the austral summer of 2011–2012. For incubations, FeCl3 solutions were added to reduce iron (Fe) limitation for phytoplankton growth. Ambient and high (~750 µatm) CO2 treatments were then prepared with and without addition of CO2-saturated seawater, respectively. Non-Fe-added (control) treatments were also prepared to assess the effects of Fe enrichment (overall, control, Fe-added, and Fe-and-CO2-added treatments). In the initial samples, the dominant phytoplankton taxa shifted with latitude from haptophytes to diatoms, likely reflecting silicate availability in the water. Under Fe-enriched conditions, increased CO2 level significantly reduced the accumulation of biomarker pigments in haptophytes in the SAZ and AZ, whereas a significant decrease in diatom markers was only detected in the SAZ. The CO2-related changes in phytoplankton community composition were greater in the SAZ, most likely due to the decrease in coccolithophore biomass. Our results suggest that an increase in CO2, if it coincides with Fe enrichment, could differentially affect the phytoplankton community composition in different geographical regions of the Southern Ocean, depending on the locally dominant taxa and environmental conditions.

Continue reading ‘Phytoplankton community responses to iron and CO2 enrichment in different biogeochemical regions of the Southern Ocean’

Resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to ocean acidification and enhanced irradiance

The Arctic Ocean is a region particularly prone to ongoing ocean acidification (OA) and climate-driven changes. The influence of these changes on Arctic phytoplankton assemblages, however, remains poorly understood. In order to understand how OA and enhanced irradiances (e.g., resulting from sea–ice retreat) will alter the species composition, primary production, and eco-physiology of Arctic phytoplankton, we conducted an incubation experiment with an assemblage from Baffin Bay (71°N, 68°W) under different carbonate chemistry and irradiance regimes. Seawater was collected from just below the deep Chl a maximum, and the resident phytoplankton were exposed to 380 and 1000 µatm pCO2 at both 15 and 35% incident irradiance. On-deck incubations, in which temperatures were 6 °C above in situ conditions, were monitored for phytoplankton growth, biomass stoichiometry, net primary production, photo-physiology, and taxonomic composition. During the 8-day experiment, taxonomic diversity decreased and the diatom Chaetoceros socialis became increasingly dominant irrespective of light or CO2 levels. We found no statistically significant effects from either higher CO2 or light on physiological properties of phytoplankton during the experiment. We did, however, observe an initial 2-day stress response in all treatments, and slight photo-physiological responses to higher CO2 and light during the first five days of the incubation. Our results thus indicate high resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to OA and enhanced irradiance levels, challenging the commonly predicted stimulatory effects of enhanced CO2 and light availability for primary production.

Continue reading ‘Resistance of Arctic phytoplankton to ocean acidification and enhanced irradiance’

Community barcoding reveals little effect of ocean acidification on the composition of coastal plankton communities: Evidence from a long-term mesocosm study in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak

The acidification of the oceans could potentially alter marine plankton communities with consequences for ecosystem functioning. While several studies have investigated effects of ocean acidification on communities using traditional methods, few have used genetic analyses. Here, we use community barcoding to assess the impact of ocean acidification on the composition of a coastal plankton community in a large scale, in situ, long-term mesocosm experiment. High-throughput sequencing resulted in the identification of a wide range of planktonic taxa (Alveolata, Cryptophyta, Haptophyceae, Fungi, Metazoa, Hydrozoa, Rhizaria, Straminipila, Chlorophyta). Analyses based on predicted operational taxonomical units as well as taxonomical compositions revealed no differences between communities in high CO2mesocosms (~ 760 μatm) and those exposed to present-day CO2 conditions. Observed shifts in the planktonic community composition were mainly related to seasonal changes in temperature and nutrients. Furthermore, based on our investigations, the elevated CO2 did not affect the intraspecific diversity of the most common mesozooplankter, the calanoid copepod Pseudocalanus acuspes. Nevertheless, accompanying studies found temporary effects attributed to a raise in CO2. Differences in taxa composition between the CO2 treatments could, however, only be observed in a specific period of the experiment. Based on our genetic investigations, no compositional long-term shifts of the plankton communities exposed to elevated CO2 conditions were observed. Thus, we conclude that the compositions of planktonic communities, especially those in coastal areas, remain rather unaffected by increased CO2.

Continue reading ‘Community barcoding reveals little effect of ocean acidification on the composition of coastal plankton communities: Evidence from a long-term mesocosm study in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak’

Effects of elevated CO2 on phytoplankton during a mesocosm experiment in the southern eutrophicated coastal water of China

There is a growing consensus that the ongoing increase in atmospheric CO2 level will lead to a variety of effects on marine phytoplankton and ecosystems. However, the effects of CO2 enrichment on eutrophic coastal waters are still unclear, as are the complex mechanisms coupled to the development of eutrophication. Here, we report the first mesocosm CO2 perturbation study in a eutrophic subtropical bay during summer by investigating the effect of rising CO2 on a model artificial community consisting of well-characterized cultured diatoms (Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Thalassiosira weissflogii) and prymnesiophytes (Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica). These species were inoculated into triplicate 4 m3 enclosures with equivalent chlorophyll a (Chl-a) under present and higher partial pressures of atmospheric CO2 (pCO2 = 400 and 1000 ppmv). Diatom bloom events were observed in all enclosures, with enhanced organic carbon production and Chl-a concentrations under high CO2 treatments. Relative to the low CO2 treatments, the consumption of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen and uptake ratios of N/P and N/Si increased significantly during the bloom. These observed responses suggest more extensive and complex effects of higher CO2 concentrations on phytoplankton communities in coastal eutrophic environments.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated CO2 on phytoplankton during a mesocosm experiment in the southern eutrophicated coastal water of China’

The dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea will benefit from future climate change: The interactive effects of ocean acidification, warming and high irradiance on photophysiology and hemolytic activity

Due to global climate change, marine phytoplankton will likely experience low pH (ocean acidification), high temperatures and high irradiance in the future. Here, this work report the results of a batch culture experiment conducted to study the interactive effects of elevated CO2, increased temperature and high irradiance on the harmful dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea, isolated at Dongtou Island, Eastern China Sea. The A. sanguineacells were acclimated in high CO2 condition for about three months before testing the responses of cells to a full factorial matrix experimentation during a 7-day period. This study measured the variation in physiological parameters and hemolytic activity in 8 treatments, representing full factorial combinations of 2 levels each of exposure to CO2(400 and 1000 μatm), temperature (20 and 28 °C) and irradiance (50 and 200 μmol photons m−2 s−1). Sustained growth of A. sanguinea occurred in all treatments, but high CO2 (HC) stimulated faster growth than low CO2 (LC). The pigments (chlorophyll a and carotenoid) decreased in all HC treatments. The quantum yield (Fv/Fm) declined slightly in all high-temperature (HT) treatments. High irradiance (HL) induced the accumulation of ultraviolet-absorbing compounds (UVabc) irrespective of temperature and CO2. The hemolytic activity in the LC treatments, however, declined when exposed to HT and HL, but HC alleviated the adverse effects of HT and HL on hemolytic activity. All HC and HL conditions and the combinations of high temperature*high light (HTHL) and high CO2*high temperature*high light (HCHTHL) positively affected the growth in comparison to the low CO2*low temperature*low light (LCLTLL) treatment. High temperature (HT), high light (HL) and a combination of HT*HL, however, negatively impacted hemolytic activity. CO2 was the main factor that affected the growth and hemolytic activity. There were no significant interactive effects of CO2*temperature*irradiance on growth, pigment, Fv/Fm or hemolytic activity, but there were effects on Pm, α, and Ek. If these results are extrapolated to the natural environment, it can be hypothesized that A. sanguinea cells will benefit from the combination of ocean acidification, warming, and high irradiance that are likely to occur under future climate change. It is assumed that faster growth and higher hemolytic activity and UVabc of this species will occur under future conditions compared with those the current CO2 (400 μatm) and temperature (20 °C) conditions.

Continue reading ‘The dinoflagellate Akashiwo sanguinea will benefit from future climate change: The interactive effects of ocean acidification, warming and high irradiance on photophysiology and hemolytic activity’


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