Posts Tagged 'phytoplankton'

CO2 effects on diatoms: a synthesis of more than a decade of ocean acidification experiments with natural communities

Diatoms account for 40 % of marine primary production and are considered to be key players in the biological carbon pump. Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to affect diatoms primarily by changing the availability of CO2 as a substrate for photosynthesis or through altered ecological interactions within the marine food web. Yet, there is little consensus how entire diatom communities will respond to increasing CO2. To address this question, we synthesized the literature from over a decade of OA-experiments with natural diatom communities to uncover: 1) if and how bulk diatom communities respond to elevated CO2; 2) if shifts within the diatom communities could be expected and how they are expressed with respect to taxonomic affiliation and size structure. We found that diatom communities responded to high CO2 in ~60 % of the experiments and in this case more often positively (56 %) than negatively (32 %; 12 % did not report the direction of change). Shifts among different diatom species were observed in 65 % of the experiments. Our synthesis supports the hypothesis that high CO2 particularly favors larger species as 12 out of 13 experiments which investigated cell size found a shift towards larger species. Unraveling winners and losers with respect to taxonomic affiliation was difficult due to a limited database, but there is evidence that the genus Pseudo-nitzschia could be among the losers. We conclude that OA-induced changes in diatom competitiveness and assemblage structure must be classified as a “risk for ecosystem services” due to the pivotal role diatoms play in trophic transfer and biogeochemical cycles.

Continue reading ‘CO2 effects on diatoms: a synthesis of more than a decade of ocean acidification experiments with natural communities’

Changes in growth performance and biochemical composition of Nannochloropsis oceanica in response to elevated CO2 concentrations

We studied the growth performance and biochemical composition (including
soluble carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, phenols, chlorophyll-a, carotenoid and the C/N-ratio) of Nannochloropsis oceanica under various CO2 concentrations. The cell density of N. oceanic increased with a rise in CO2 concentration and got the high level at a CO2 concentration of 1000ppm or 1500ppm. In addition, except the proteins all tested biochemical composition were significantly affected by CO2 concentration (0.01 <P< 0.05; one factorial ANOVA). However comparing with other biochemical components, the contents of phenols in N. oceanic showed the opposite trends (P<0.01; one factorial ANOVA). In general, the short-term stimulation of elevated CO2 concentration to N. oceanic can promote cell division and synthesis of most of biochemical components (expect proteins and phenols).

Continue reading ‘Changes in growth performance and biochemical composition of Nannochloropsis oceanica in response to elevated CO2 concentrations’

Impact de l’acidification et du réchauffement sur les communautés planctoniques de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent et la production de diméthylsulfure (in French)

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased since the industrial revolution, leading to modifications in atmospheric CO2 content and an increase in oceanic CO2 partial pressures (pCO2). The uptake of CO2 by the oceans has resulted in a lowering of surface water pH, corresponding to an increase in the acidity of the oceans by ~30 % compared with pre-industrial times. Furthermore, climate change resulting from the accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is responsible for the observed warming of sea surface temperatures since the mid 20th century. The fate of planktonic communities in the face of these changes in the marine environment over the next century remains uncertain. Even less understood are the possible interactions of acidification and warming on the production of dimethylsulfide (DMS), a sulfur-containing gas produced by planktonic communities and involved in climate regulation. The aim of this thesis is to determine the impact of heightened pCO2 on the development of the phytoplanktonic blooms in the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary (LSLE), and their production of DMS, as well as to evaluate how concomitant warming could modulate the effects of acidification. Two intricate experiments were carried out during this study. First, a microcosm experiment (~20 L) was conducted in the summer of 2013 to assess the effects of pCO2 on the development of the LSLE spring diatom bloom, paying special attention to the microbial processes governing the production of DMS. Second, a multifactorial mesocosm experiment (~2600 L) was carried out in the fall of 2014 to investigate the combined effects of pCO2 and temperature on the development of the fall bloom in the LSLE and the production of DMS. Results from our microcosm experiment show that the blooming phytoplankton community of the LSLE during spring is resistant to pCO2 increases superior to the expected values for 2100. This resistance likely reflects its adaptation to the estuarine setting, an environment known for rapid and intense fluctuations of pCO2. This first experiment has also highlighted a reduction of the average concentrations of DMS by 15 and 40 % in planktonic assemblages respectively subjected to pCO2 of ~1850 μatm and ~2700 μatm compared to the control (~775 μatm). Parallel incubations have shown, using 35S-DMSPd, that the negative effect of acidification on DMS mostly stemmed from a decrease in the conversion efficiency of DMSP to DMS by bacteria. The second experiment has also highlighted a strong resistance of the diatom Skeletonema costatum to a wide range of pH (~8.0–7.2), and corresponding pCO2 (~90–3000 μatm). In this study, a warming of 5 °C accelerated the development and decline of the bloom, but did not affect the integrated primary production over the duration of the experiment. As in the first experiment, heightened pCO2 resulted in a decrease of average concentrations of DMS of ~66 % in the most acidified mesocosms compared to the least acidified mesocosms at in situ temperature (10 °C). However, the negative effect of an increase in pCO2 on the net production of DMS could be mitigated by a warming of surface waters. Indeed, my results reveal that the net production of DMS was higher at 15 °C compared to 10 °C over the whole pCO2 gradient in our mesocosm study. These novel results suggest that warming of surface waters could mitigate, at least partly, the negative effect of acidification on DMS net production in the LSLE and perhaps in the world’s oceans.

Continue reading ‘Impact de l’acidification et du réchauffement sur les communautés planctoniques de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent et la production de diméthylsulfure (in French)’

Functional responses of smaller and larger diatoms to gradual CO2 rise


• The growth of diatoms appears to be saturated under the contemporary CO2 level.

• A smaller diatom is more prone to photoinhibition with gradual CO2 rise.

• CO2 modulation methods significantly affect growth and physiological responses to CO2.


Diatoms and other phytoplankton groups are exposed to abrupt changes in pCO2, in waters in upwelling areas, near CO2 seeps, or during their blooms; or to more gradual pCO2 rise through anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Gradual CO2 rises have, however, rarely been included in ocean acidification (OA) studies. We therefore compared how small (Thalassiosira pseudonana) and larger (Thalassiosira weissflogii) diatom cell isolates respond to gradual pCO2 rises from 180 to 1000 μatm in steps of ~40 μatm with 5–10 generations at each step, and whether their responses to gradual pCO2 rise differ when compared to an abrupt pCO2 rise imposed from ambient 400 directly to 1000 μatm. Cell volume increased in T. pseudonana but decreased in T. weissflogii with an increase from low to moderate CO2 levels, and then remained steady under yet higher CO2 levels. Growth rates were stimulated, but Chl a, particulate organic carbon (POC) and cellular biogenic silica (BSi) decreased from low to moderate CO2 levels, and then remained steady with further CO2 rise in both species. Decreased saturation light intensity (Ik) and light use efficiency (α) with CO2 rise in T. pseudonana indicate that the smaller diatom becomes more susceptible to photoinhibition. Decreased BSi/POC (Si/C) in T. weissflogii indicates the biogeochemical cycles of both silicon and carbon may be more affected by elevated pCO2 in the larger diatom. The different CO2 modulation methods resulted in different responses of some key physiological parameters. Increasing pCO2 from 180 to 400 μatm decreased cellular POC and BSi contents, implying that ocean acidification to date has already altered diatom contributions to carbon and silicon biogeochemical processes.

Continue reading ‘Functional responses of smaller and larger diatoms to gradual CO2 rise’

Reduced Symbiodiniaceae diversity in Palythoa tuberculosa at a heavily acidified coral reef

Symbiodiniaceae diversity in hosts is known to change with the environment and particularly with temperature and light intensity. However, higher levels of pCO2, as could be expected under future ocean acidification scenarios, have been documented to show little to no effect in influencing the diversity of Symbiodiniaceae in hosts in previous studies. In this study, we examined hypervariable psbAncr sequences to identify the Cladocopium (former Symbiodinium ‘Clade C’) diversity within the zooxanthellate zoantharian Palythoa tuberculosa at an acidified reef in southern Japan. Palythoa tuberculosa were collected from a reef at the volcanic island of Iwotorishima in southern Japan; specimens from a high pCO2 site and from a nearby control (normal pCO2) site (Inoue et al. in Nat Clim Change 3:683–687, 2013). We observed a statistically significant reduction in Cladocopium diversity at the high pCO2 site with only one Cladocopium lineage present, compared to at the control site with two lineages present. Our results demonstrate that higher pCO2 can potentially negatively influence the diversity of host Symbiodiniaceae within anthozoan hosts, an important implication in the face of ongoing ocean acidification and climate change.

Continue reading ‘Reduced Symbiodiniaceae diversity in Palythoa tuberculosa at a heavily acidified coral reef’

Responses of carbonic anhydrases and Rubisco to abrupt CO2 changes of seawater in two marine diatoms

Diatoms are experiencing striking fluctuations in seawater carbonate chemistry in the natural marine environment, especially in coastal seawaters. Here, we show that the diatoms Thalassiosira weissflogii and Phaeodactylum tricornutum, which utilize different carbon acquisition mechanisms, respond differently to short-term changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. Our results showed that T. weissflogii showed significantly higher photosynthetic oxygen evolution rates than that of P. tricornutum at low levels of CO2 or HCO3−. This suggests that T. weissflogii had higher affinities for CO2 or HCO3− when their concentrations were not sufficient to support saturated growth and photosynthesis. While the activity of Rubisco in P. tricornutum positively correlated with carbonic anhydrases (CA), we observed negative relationship between Rubisco and CA activity in the diatom T. weissflogii. These contrasting physiological responses of diatoms with varied carbon acquisition mechanisms indicate different abilities to cope up with abrupt changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. We propose that the ability to respond to varying carbonate chemistry may act as one determinant of the diatom distributions and phytoplankton community structures.

Continue reading ‘Responses of carbonic anhydrases and Rubisco to abrupt CO2 changes of seawater in two marine diatoms’

Toxic algae silence physiological responses to multiple climate drivers in a tropical marine food chain

Research on the effects of climate change in the marine environment continues to accelerate, yet we know little about the effects of multiple climate drivers in more complex, ecologically relevant settings – especially in sub-tropical and tropical systems. In marine ecosystems, climate change (warming and freshening from land run-off) will increase water column stratification which is favorable for toxin producing dinoflagellates. This can increase the prevalence of toxic microalgal species, leading to bioaccumulation of toxins by filter feeders, such as bivalves, with resultant negative impacts on physiological performance. In this study we manipulated multiple climate drivers (warming, freshening, and acidification), and the availability of toxic microalgae, to determine their impact on the physiological health, and toxin load of the tropical filter-feeding clam, Meretrix meretrix. Using a structural equation modeling (SEM) approach, we found that exposure to projected marine climates resulted in direct negative effects on metabolic and immunological function and, that these effects were often more pronounced in clams exposed to multiple, rather than single climate drivers. Furthermore, our study showed that these physiological responses were modified by indirect effects mediated through the food chain. Specifically, we found that when bivalves were fed with a toxin-producing dinoflagellate (Alexandrium minutum) the physiological responses, and toxin load changed differently and in a non-predictable way compared to clams exposed to projected marine climates only. Specifically, oxygen consumption data revealed that these clams did not respond physiologically to climate warming or the combined effects of warming, freshening and acidification. Our results highlight the importance of quantifying both direct and, indirect food chain effects of climate drivers on a key tropical food species, and have important implications for shellfish production and food safety in tropical regions.

Continue reading ‘Toxic algae silence physiological responses to multiple climate drivers in a tropical marine food chain’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book