Posts Tagged 'phytoplankton'

Ocean acidification affects the response of the coastal coccolithophore Pleurochrysis carterae to irradiance

The ecologically important marine phytoplankton group coccolithophores have a global distribution. The impacts of ocean acidification on the cosmopolitan species Emiliania huxleyi have received much attention and have been intensively studied. However, the species-specific responses of coccolithophores and how these responses will be regulated by other environmental drivers are still largely unknown. To examine the interactive effects of irradiance and ocean acidification on the physiology of the coastal coccolithophore species Pleurochrysis carterae, we carried out a semi-continuous incubation experiment under a range of irradiances (50, 200, 500, 800 μmol photons m−2 s−1) at two CO2 concentration conditions of 400 and 800 ppm. The results suggest that the saturation irradiance for the growth rate was higher at an elevated CO2 concentration. Ocean acidification weakened the particulate organic carbon (POC) production of Pleurochrysis carterae and the inhibition rate was decreased with increasing irradiance, indicating that ocean acidification may affect the tolerating capacity of photosynthesis to higher irradiance. Our results further provide new insight into the species-specific responses of coccolithophores to the projected ocean acidification under different irradiance scenarios in the changing marine environment.

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Ocean acidification reduces iodide production by the marine diatom Chaetoceros sp. (CCMP 1690)


  • Ocean acidification had no effect on growth rates of the diatom Chaetoceros sp. CCMP (1690) but higher cell yield under high CO2.
  • Ocean acidifcation has the potential to inhibit the diatom-mediated iodate to iodide reduction process.
  • Iodide production was decoupled from iodate uptake and refute the proposed link between iodide produced and cell membrane permeability.


Phytoplankton in marine surface waters play a key role in the global iodine cycle. The biologically-mediated iodide production under future scenarios is limited. Here we compare growth, iodate to iodide conversion rate and membrane permeability in the diatom Chaetoceros sp. (CCMP 1690) grown under seawater carbonate chemistry conditions projected for 2100 (1000 ppm) and pre-industrial (280 ppm) conditions. We found no effect of CO2 on growth rates, but a significantly higher cell yield under high CO2, suggesting sustained growth from relief from carbon limitation. Cell normalised iodate uptake (16.73 ± 0.92 amol IO3 cell−1) and iodide production (8.61 ± 0.15 amol I cell−1) was lower in cultures grown at high pCO2 than those exposed to pre-industrial conditions (21.29 ± 2.37 amol IO3 cell−1, 11.91 ± 1.49 amol I cell−1, respectively). Correlating these measurements with membrane permeability, we were able to ascertain that iodide conversion rates were not linked to cell permeability and that the processes of mediated iodate loss and diatom-iodide formation are decoupled. These findings are the first to implicate OA in driving a potential shift in diatom-mediated iodate reduction. If our results are indicative of diatom-mediated iodine cycling in 2100, future surface ocean conditions could experience reduced rates of iodide production by Chaetoceros spp., potentially lowering iodide concentrations in ocean regions dominated by this group. These changes have the potential to impact ozone cycling and new particle formation in the atmosphere.

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The combined effect of pH and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations on the physiology of plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum and its cryptophyte prey

Ocean acidification is caused by rising atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and involves a lowering of pH combined with increased concentrations of CO2 and dissolved in organic carbon in ocean waters. Many studies investigated the consequences of these combined changes on marine phytoplankton, yet only few attempted to separate the effects of decreased pH and increased pCO2. Moreover, studies typically target photoautotrophic phytoplankton, while little is known of plastidic protists that depend on the ingestion of plastids from their prey. Therefore, we studied the separate and interactive effects of pH and DIC levels on the plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum, which is known to form red tides in coastal waters worldwide. Also, we tested the effects on their prey, which typically are cryptophytes belonging to the Teleaulax/Plagioslemis/Geminigera species complex. These cryptophytes not only serve as food for the ciliate, but also as a supplier of chloroplasts and prey nuclei. We exposed M. rubrum and the two cryptophyte species, T. acuta, T. amphioxeia to different pH (6.8 – 8) and DIC levels (∼ 6.5 – 26 mg C L-1) and assessed their growth and photosynthetic rates, and cellular chlorophyll a and elemental contents. Our findings did not show consistent significant effects across the ranges in pH and/or DIC, except for M. rubrum, for which growth was negatively affected only by the lowest pH of 6.8 combined with lower DIC concentrations. It thus seems that M. rubrum is largely resilient to changes in pH and DIC, and its blooms may not be strongly impacted by the changes in ocean carbonate chemistry projected for the end of the 21th century.

Continue reading ‘The combined effect of pH and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations on the physiology of plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum and its cryptophyte prey’

Large-scale culturing of Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, its growth in, and tolerance of, variable environmental conditions

The planktic foraminifera Neogloboquadrina pachyderma is a calcifying marine protist and the dominant planktic foraminifera species in the polar oceans, making it a key species in marine polar ecosystems. The calcium carbonate shells of foraminifera are widely used in palaeoclimate studies because their chemical composition reflects the seawater conditions in which they grow. This species provides unique proxy data for past surface ocean hydrography, which can provide valuable insight to future climate scenarios. However, little is known about the response of N. pachyderma to variable and changing environmental conditions.Here, we present observations from large-scale culturing experiments where temperature, salinity and carbonate chemistry were altered independently. We observed overall low mortality, calcification of new chambers and addition of secondary calcite crust in all our treatments. In-culture asexual reproduction events also allowed us to monitor the variable growth of N. pachyderma’s offspring. Several specimens had extended periods of dormancy or inactivity after which they recovered. These observations suggest that N. pachyderma can tolerate, adapt to and calcify within a wide range of environmental conditions. This has implications for the species-level response to ocean warming and acidification, for future studies aiming to culture N. pachyderma and use in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.

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Constraining oceanic carbonate chemistry evolution during the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition: combined benthic and planktonic calcium isotope records from the equatorial Pacific Ocean

The Mesozoic-Cenozoic transition is a period of biogeochemical cycle perturbations. The strongest of them is the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (K-Pg) crisis, characterized by one of the most important extinctions of planktonic marine calcifiers in Earth’s history. One of the primary drivers of this biocalcification crisis is thought to be the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration and ocean acidification triggered by the Chicxulub Impact, and/or Deccan volcanism. Because it reflects changes of the calcium cycle and/or depends on parameters of the carbonate system, the Ca isotope composition of carbonate minerals precipitated from seawater (44/40Ca) offers the potential to reconstruct some of the environmental changes that occurred. Here we present new high-resolution planktonic and benthic foraminiferal 44/40Ca, 18O, 13C, and Sr/Ca records across the K-Pg transition from Shatsky rise (Leg 198; ODP Site 1209, Hole C). The 44/40Ca record displays a succession of rapid shifts of ca. ‰−0.4‰ across the K-Pg transition. They are similar though not identical between the planktonic and benthic records. These shifts took place on a timescale significantly shorter than the residence time of Ca in the oceans and are therefore unlikely to result from global disequilibrium in the oceanic Ca budget. Instead, changes in the fractionation factor between carbonate minerals and seawater in response to changes in precipitation rates may explain the observed 44/40Ca and Sr/Ca record. The benthic and planktonic 44/40Ca records show a late Maastrichtian and an early Danian negative excursions best explained by a succession of episodes of ocean alkalinity increase related to increased continental weathering caused by CO2 emissions from Deccan volcanism and the aftermath of the K-Pg biocalcification crisis. Carbonate compensation via carbonate sediment dissolution, biological carbonate compensation via reduction of biocalcification, and/or an increase in continental weathering must have occurred to offset the excess CO2, ultimately resulting in rapid changes in ocean carbonate chemistry, in combination with reduced surface alkalinity export in response to the early Paleogene planktonic biomineralization crisis.

Continue reading ‘Constraining oceanic carbonate chemistry evolution during the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition: combined benthic and planktonic calcium isotope records from the equatorial Pacific Ocean’

Genomic signatures suggesting adaptation to ocean acidification in a coral holobiont from volcanic CO2 seeps

Ocean acidification, caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, is predicted to have major consequences for reef-building corals, jeopardizing the scaffolding of the most biodiverse marine habitats. However, whether corals can adapt to ocean acidification and how remains unclear. We addressed these questions by re-examining transcriptome and genome data of Acropora millepora coral holobionts from volcanic CO2 seeps with end-of-century pH levels. We show that adaptation to ocean acidification is a wholistic process involving the three main compartments of the coral holobiont. We identified 441 coral host candidate adaptive genes involved in calcification, response to acidification, and symbiosis; population genetic differentiation in dinoflagellate photosymbionts; and consistent transcriptional microbiome activity despite microbial community shifts. Coral holobionts from natural analogues to future ocean conditions harbor beneficial genetic variants with far-reaching rapid adaptation potential. In the face of climate change, these populations require immediate conservation strategies as they could become key to coral reef survival.

Continue reading ‘Genomic signatures suggesting adaptation to ocean acidification in a coral holobiont from volcanic CO2 seeps’

Feeding in mixoplankton enhances phototrophy increasing bloom-induced pH changes with ocean acidification

Plankton phototrophy consumes CO2, increasing seawater pH, while heterotrophy does the converse. Elevation of pH (>8.5) during coastal blooms becomes increasingly deleterious for plankton. Mixoplankton, which can be important bloom-formers, engage in both photoautotrophy and phagoheterotrophy; in theory, this activity could create a relatively stable pH environment for plankton growth. Using a systems biology modelling approach, we explored whether different mixoplankton functional groups could modulate the environmental pH compared to the extreme activities of phototrophic phytoplankton and heterotrophic zooplankton. Activities by most mixoplankton groups do not stabilize seawater pH. Through access to additional nutrient streams from internal recycling with phagotrophy, mixoplankton phototrophy is enhanced, elevating pH; this is especially so for constitutive and plastidic specialist non-constitutive mixoplankton. Mixoplankton blooms can exceed the size of phytoplankton blooms; the synergisms of mixoplankton physiology, accessing nutrition via phagotrophy as well as from inorganic sources, enhance or augment primary production rather than depressing it. Ocean acidification will thus enable larger coastal mixoplankton blooms to form before basification becomes detrimental. The dynamics of such bloom developments will depend on whether the mixoplankton are consuming heterotrophs and/or phototrophs and how the plankton community succession evolves.

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Physiological response of an Antarctic cryptophyte to increasing temperature, CO2, and irradiance

The Southern Ocean, a globally important CO2 sink, is one of the most susceptible regions in the world to climate change. Phytoplankton of the coastal shelf waters around the Western Antarctic Peninsula have been experiencing rapid warming over the past decades and current ongoing climatic changes will expose them to ocean acidification and high light intensities due to increasing stratification. We conducted a multiple-stressor experiment to evaluate the response of the still poorly studied key Antarctic cryptophyte species Geminigera cryophila to warming in combination with ocean acidification and high irradiance. Based on the thermal growth response of G. cryophila, we grew the cryptophyte at suboptimal (2°C) and optimal (4°C) temperatures in combination with two light intensities (medium light: 100 μmol photons m−2 s−1 and high light [HL]: 500 μmol photons m−2 s−1) under ambient (400 μatm pCO2) and high pCO2 (1000 μatm pCO2) conditions. Our results reveal that G. cryophila was not susceptible to high pCO2, but was strongly affected by HL at 2°C, as both growth and carbon fixation were significantly reduced. In comparison, warming up to 4°C stimulated the growth of the cryptophyte and even alleviated the previously observed negative effects of HL at 2°C. When grown, however, at temperatures above 4°C, the cryptophyte already reached its maximal thermal limit at 8°C, pointing out its vulnerability toward even higher temperatures. Hence, our results clearly indicate that warming and high light and not pCO2 control the growth of G. cryophila.

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Acclimation to various temperature and pCO2 levels does not impact the competitive ability of two strains of Skeletonema marinoi in natural communities subjected to different pCO2 treatments

Understanding the long-term response of key marine phytoplankton species to ongoing global changes is pivotal in determining how oceanic community composition will respond over the coming decades. To better understand the impact of ocean acidification and warming, we acclimated two strains of Skeletonema marinoi isolated from natural communities to three pCO2 (400 atm, 600 atm and 1000 atm) for 8 months and five temperature conditions (7°C, 10°C, 13°C, 16°C and 19°C) for 11 months. These strains were then tested in natural microbial communities, exposed to three pCO2 treatments (400 atm, 600 atm and 1000 atm). DNA metabarcoding of the 16S and 18S gene for prokaryotes and eukaryotes respectively was used to show differences in abundance and diversity between the three CO2 treatments. We found there were no significant differences in acclimated S. marinoi concentrations between the three pCO2 treatments, most likely due to the high variability these strains experience in their natural environment. There were significant compositional differences between the pCO2 treatments for prokaryotes suggesting that indirect changes to phytoplankton-bacteria interactions could be a possible driver of bacterial community composition. Yet, there were no differences for eukaryotic community composition, with all treatments dominated by diatoms (but not the acclimated S. marinoi) resulting in similar biodiversity. Furthermore, strain-specific differences in community composition suggests interactions between prokaryotic and eukaryotic taxa could play a role in determining future community composition.

Continue reading ‘Acclimation to various temperature and pCO2 levels does not impact the competitive ability of two strains of Skeletonema marinoi in natural communities subjected to different pCO2 treatments’

Elevated pCO2 alleviates the toxic effects of polystyrene nanoparticles on the marine microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica


  • Inhibition of marine microalgae by polystyrene nanoparticles (100 nm) was evaluated.
  • Increased pCO2 mitigated growth inhibition of algal cells caused by polystyrene nanoparticles.
  • Polystyrene nanoparticles achieve inhibition effect by down-regulating key enzymes of TCA cycle.
  • Increased pCO2 mitigated the toxicity of polystyrene nanoparticles by upregulating ribosomes and corresponding synthesis processes.
  • Aggregation of polystyrene nanoparticles was detected in acidizing experimental medium.


Concerns about the environmental effects of nanoplastics on marine ecosystems are increasing. Ocean acidification (OA) has also become a global environmental problem. Plastic pollution occurs concomitantly with anthropogenic climate stressors such as OA. However, the combined effects of NP and OA on marine phytoplankton are still not well understood. Therefore, we have investigated the behavior of ammonia (NH2polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NP) in f/2 medium under 1000 μatm pCO2 and discussed the toxicity of PS NP (100 nm; 0.5 and 1.5 mg/L) on Nannochloropsis oceanica under long and short-term acidification (LA and SA; pCO2 ~ 1000 μatm). We observed PS NP suspended in pCO2 1000 μatm f/2 medium aggregated to a size greater than nanoscale (1339.00 ± 76.10 nm). In addition, we found that PS NP significantly inhibited the growth of N. oceanica at two concentrations, which also produced oxidative stress. Whereas, the growth of algal cells under the coupling of acidification and PS NP was significantly better than that of single PS NP exposure. This indicated that acidification significantly alleviated the toxic effects of PS NP on N. oceanica, and long-term acidification can even promote the growth of N. oceanica under low-density NP. To further understand the mechanism, we analyzed a comparative transcriptome. The results showed that PS NP exposure inhibited the expression of genes involved in the TCA cycle. The acidification was possibly reflected in ribosomes and corresponding processes, which alleviated the negative effects of PS NP on N. oceanica by promoting the synthesis of related enzymes and proteins. This study provided a theoretical basis for assessing the damage of NP to marine phytoplankton under OA. We propose that future studies evaluating the toxicology of NP to marine ecology should consider the changing ocean climate.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 alleviates the toxic effects of polystyrene nanoparticles on the marine microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica’

Simulated upwelling and marine heatwave events promote similar growth rates but differential domoic acid toxicity in Pseudo-nitzschia australis

Along the west coast of the United States, highly toxic Pseudo-nitzschia blooms have been associated with two contrasting regional phenomena: seasonal upwelling and marine heatwaves. While upwelling delivers cool water rich in pCO2 and an abundance of macronutrients to the upper water column, marine heatwaves instead lead to warmer surface waters, low pCO2, and reduced nutrient availability. Understanding Pseudo-nitzschia dynamics under these two conditions is important for bloom forecasting and coastal management, yet the mechanisms driving toxic bloom formation during contrasting upwelling vs. heatwave conditions remain poorly understood. To gain a better understanding of what drives Pseudo-nitzschia australis growth and toxicity during these events, multiple-driver scenario or ‘cluster’ experiments were conducted using temperature, pCO2, and nutrient levels reflecting conditions during upwelling (13 °C, 900 ppm pCO2, replete nutrients) and two intensities of marine heatwaves (19 °C or 20.5 °C, 250 ppm pCO2, reduced macronutrients). While P. australis grew equally well under both heatwave and upwelling conditions, similar to what has been observed in the natural environment, cells were only toxic in the upwelling treatment. We also conducted single-driver experiments to gain a mechanistic understanding of which drivers most impact P. australis growth and toxicity. These experiments indicated that nitrogen concentration and N:P ratio were likely the drivers that most influenced domoic acid production, while the impacts of temperature or pCO2 concentration were less pronounced. Together, these experiments may help to provide both mechanistic and holistic perspectives on toxic P. australis blooms in the dynamic and changing coastal ocean, where cells interact simultaneously with multiple altered environmental variables.

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A glimpse into the climate, seasonality, hydrological cycle, carbonate chemistry and marine ecosystem shift of the pre-Petm and the Petm using Ncar Cesm1.2

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ~56 my ago, 170,000y event) is characterized by a negative δ13C excursion into the atmosphere. This event caused global temperature to increase by about 5-6 °C, followed by climate responses such as marine acidification, ocean stratification, shoaling of calcite compensation depth (CCD), stronger hydrological cycle, and significant changes in marine ecosystems. It is one of the very few analogies of today’s global warming climate and thus is valuable to study. It still holds much potential for research, including using the state-of-the-art model CESM1.2. Proxy records are limited due to the nature of geological preservation and tectonic evolution. Modeling and simulations can provide insights to supplement the limited proxy records research.  Here, we explore the seasonality, hydrological cycles, and controlling factors of their changes from pre-PETM to the PETM in the first paper; the ability of CESM1.2 to simulate carbonate chemistry, changes in lysocline and CCD in the Atlantic Ocean in the second paper; and the shift of phytoplankton functional groups, using the same preferendum to capture first-hand reactions to environmental changes, from pre-industrial pCO2 to pre-PETM in the third paper. All papers use CESM1.2 simulation results with or without BEC. Our results show that from pre-PETM to PETM, seasonality increases in mid-latitude continental interiors and decreases in high and low latitudes, along with globally enhanced moisture transfer in hydrological cycles. The main controlling factors of these areas are snow-albedo effect, soil moisture, and precipitation. CESM1.2 and ocean Biogeochemical (BGC) Elemental Cycling (BEC) can simulate the changes of carbonate chemistry of the Atlantic Ocean, with certain modifications in the code base and without the need of extra models. There are noticeable and significant changes in chlorophyll, nutrient and NPP from PETM in pre-industrial pCO2 and pre-PETM, but distinct variations from pre-industrial and PETM in pre-industrial pCO2 simulations.  Proxy record scarcity is the main limitation of the studies on PETM and should be used with care. In the meantime, machine learning is encouraged for multi-disciplinary research of complicated topics such as carbon chemistry and phytoplankton functional group preferendum and ecosystem dynamics.

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Effects of climate change on the growth and chemical composition of primary producers and its impacts on coastal aquaculture

Coastal aquaculture has been growing rapidly in the last decades as a response to the global seafood demand and overexploited wild marine populations. As more sustainable food production practices are sought, the attention on the production of low trophic level organisms has increased significantly. Responsible production of primary producers and primary consumers in coastal areas can help meet the ever-increasing seafood demands and ease burdens on natural resources. However, conditions in coastal areas are not easy to control, and changes in ambient factors can impact coastal aquaculture productivity in various ways. Temperature and pH are factors that are already changing globally and are expected to keep changing in response to climate change.

The growth and chemical composition of primary producers, like algae and seaweed, are influenced by the ambient conditions where they grow. Their cells can chemically adapt to the environment, responding to changes in ambient conditions by producing biomass with different nutritional values. Primary producers are the base of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems, serving as a food source for consumers at higher trophic levels. Herbivores and filter feeders directly depend on the availability of good quality primary producers’ sources, hence, any changes in the nutrient content and growth of primary producers will affect the ability to produce these species. Therefore, to assure sustainable growth of coastal aquaculture, it is important to understand how species of interest are affected by the changes in ambient conditions predicted due to climate change, and how they interact and relate to each other.

Here, the relationship between environmental conditions, primary producers, and primary consumers was explored. The main goal of this study was to understand how changes in temperature and pH can influence the production of herbivore species in coastal areas, by changing the nutritional value of their diets. For this, as a first approximation, a microalgae culture system that maintained multiple pH cultures through automatic addition of CO2 to keep the desired pH was designed, and the effects of temperature and pH on the growth and protein content of two species of marine microalgae were explored. The species Nannochloropsis oculata and Chaetoceros gracilis were selected for this study as they are important species in coastal aquaculture of filter feeder species. The study consisted of growing these two species under two different temperatures, 13°C and 20°C, and two pH levels, 8.2 and 7.6, representing the current and projected ocean conditions, in Northern California, due to climate change, respectively. The highest final cell count, specific growth rate, and protein content were found when both species of algae were grown at 20°C and pH 7.6, indicating the projected conditions caused by climate change did not have negative effects on the marine microalgae tested. The statistical analysis results for all the parameters suggest that temperature has a bigger influence than pH on both species of algae.

The results of this study suggest that rising ocean temperature and ocean acidification caused by climate change might have positive effects on the protein content and the growth of the marine microalgae studied. Furthermore, temperature seemed to be a more influential factor than pH. In the same way, rising ocean temperature positively affected the protein content of the seaweed studied, however, its growth and condition deteriorated as temperature increased. Therefore, even though dulse growing at 17°C yielded higher growth rates of abalone, keeping this seaweed at higher temperatures will not be sustainable. The different diets used for this study did not affect the nutritional composition of the juvenile red abalone. Finally, higher temperatures due to climate change did not seem to have negative indirect effects on the juvenile red abalone and overall dulse growth rate was the only factor studied that was negatively affected by the predicted conditions due to climate change.

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Coccolithophores and diatoms resilient to ocean alkalinity enhancement: a glimpse of hope?

It is increasingly apparent that adequately mitigating anthropogenic climate interference will require ocean carbon dioxide removal (CDR) strategies. Ocean alkalinity enhancement (OAE) is an abiotic ocean CDR approach that aims to increase the ocean’s CO2 uptake capacity through the dispersal of pulverized mineral or dissolved alkali into the surface ocean. However, OAE’s effect on marine biota is largely unexplored. Here, we investigate the impacts of moderate (~700 μmol kg−1) and high (~2700 μmol kg−1) limestone-inspired alkalinity additions on two biogeochemically and ecologically important phytoplankton functional group representatives: Emiliania huxleyi (calcium carbonate producer) and Chaetoceros sp. (silica producer). The growth rate and elemental ratios of both taxa showed a neutral response to limestone-inspired alkalinization. While our results are encouraging, we also observed abiotic mineral precipitation, which removed nutrients and alkalinity from solution. Our findings offer an evaluation of biogeochemical and physiological responses to OAE and provide evidence supporting the need for continued research into how OAE strategies affect marine ecosystems.

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Variations in the Southern Ocean carbonate production, preservation, and hydrography for the past 41, 500 years: evidence from coccolith and CaCO3 records

Changes in ocean alkalinity affect atmospheric pCO2 (i.e., higher alkalinity lowers atmospheric pCO2). Ocean alkalinity is partly determined by sedimentary burial of carbonates, which is primarily controlled by carbonate flux and the degree of deep ocean carbonate saturation. In this study, we investigate the factors determining the coccolith burial in subantarctic sediments and the surface ocean changes in the subtropical South Indian Ocean. The downcore coccolith records from the subantarctic region (SK200/22a) of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean display low coccolith concentration during the glacial period. A possible explanation for this is, 1) the low glacial production of coccolithophores due to the competition from diatoms and 2) dilution by biogenic silica in the glacial sediments. Additionally, reduced carbonate burial owing to the low carbonate saturation of the deep-water accounts for the decline in glacial coccolith concentration. This also explains the low coccolith dissolution index and enrichment of the large dissolution-resistant coccolith species, Coccolithus pelagicus subsp. braarudii in the glacial sediments. The low carbonate saturation is attributed to, 1) the replacement of carbonate saturated, North Atlantic Deep Waters by the undersaturated southern sourced water masses and 2) increased storage of dissolved CO2 in the deep glacial Southern Ocean. Our study suggests that changes in coccolith production and the deep ocean carbonate saturation determine their burial in subantarctic sediments for the last 41,500 years. Other than these changes, the study region also records the changes in the Agulhas Return Current via variation in the proportion of tropical-subtropical coccolith assemblage.

Continue reading ‘Variations in the Southern Ocean carbonate production, preservation, and hydrography for the past 41, 500 years: evidence from coccolith and CaCO3 records’

Interaction matters: bottom-up driver interdependencies alter the projected response of phytoplankton communities to climate change

Phytoplankton growth is controlled by multiple environmental drivers, which are all modified by climate change. While numerous experimental studies identify interactive effects between drivers, large-scale ocean biogeochemistry models mostly account for growth responses to each driver separately and leave the results of these experimental multiple-driver studies largely unused. Here, we amend phytoplankton growth functions in a biogeochemical model by dual-driver interactions (CO2 and temperature, CO2 and light), based on data of a published meta-analysis on multiple-driver laboratory experiments. The effect of this parametrization on phytoplankton biomass and community composition is tested using present-day and future high-emission (SSP5-8.5) climate forcing. While the projected decrease in future total global phytoplankton biomass in simulations with driver interactions is similar to that in control simulations without driver interactions (5%–6%), interactive driver effects are group-specific. Globally, diatom biomass decreases more with interactive effects compared with the control simulation (−8.1% with interactions vs. no change without interactions). Small-phytoplankton biomass, by contrast, decreases less with on-going climate change when the model accounts for driver interactions (−5.0% vs. −9.0%). The response of global coccolithophore biomass to future climate conditions is even reversed when interactions are considered (+33.2% instead of −10.8%). Regionally, the largest difference in the future phytoplankton community composition between the simulations with and without driver interactions is detected in the Southern Ocean, where diatom biomass decreases (−7.5%) instead of increases (+14.5%), raising the share of small phytoplankton and coccolithophores of total phytoplankton biomass. Hence, interactive effects impact the phytoplankton community structure and related biogeochemical fluxes in a future ocean. Our approach is a first step to integrate the mechanistic understanding of interacting driver effects on phytoplankton growth gained by numerous laboratory experiments into a global ocean biogeochemistry model, aiming toward more realistic future projections of phytoplankton biomass and community composition.

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Reduction in size of the calcifying phytoplankton Calcidiscus leptoporus to environmental changes between the Holocene and modern Subantarctic Southern Ocean

The Subantarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean plays a disproportionally large role on the Earth system. Model projections predict rapid environmental change in the coming decades, including ocean acidification, warming, and changes in nutrient supply which pose a serious risk for marine ecosystems. Yet despite the importance of the Subantarctic Zone, annual and inter-annual time series are extremely rare, leading to important uncertainties about the current state of its ecosystems and hindering predictions of future response to climate change. Moreover, as the longest observational time series available are only a few decades long, it remains unknown whether marine pelagic ecosystems have already responded to ongoing environmental change during the industrial era. Here, we take advantage of multiple sampling efforts – monitoring of surface layer water properties together with sediment trap, seafloor surface sediment and sediment core sampling – to reconstruct the modern and pre-industrial state of the keystone calcifying phytoplankton Calcidiscus leptoporus, central to the global marine carbonate cycle. Morphometric measurements reveal that modern C. leptoporus coccoliths are 15% lighter and 25% smaller than those preserved in the underlying Holocene-aged sediments. The cumulative effect of multiple environmental drivers appears responsible for the coccolith size variations since the Last Deglaciation, with warming and ocean acidification most likely playing a predominant role during the industrial era. Notably, extrapolation of our results suggests a future reduction in cell and coccolith size which will have a negative impact on the efficiency of the biological pump in the Southern Ocean through a reduction of carbonate ballasting. Lastly, our results tentatively suggest that C. leptoporus coccolith size could be used as a palaeo-proxy for growth rate. Future culture experiments will be needed to test this hypothesis.

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Marine macroinvertebrate ecosystem services under changing conditions of seagrasses and mangroves


  • Overfishing and climate change show potential effects on MMI ES.
  • MMI regulating ES can be quantified using species richness and functional traits.
  • Digital platforms are valuable tools to retrieve data but have limitations.
  • Baseline data and information on environmental changes and MMI ES is provided.


This study aimed to investigate the impact of changing environmental conditions on MMI ES in seagrasses and mangroves. We used data from satellite and biodiversity platforms combined with field data to explore the links between ecosystem pressures (habitat conversion, overexploitation, climate change), conditions (environmental quality, ecosystem attributes), and MMI ES (provisioning, regulation, cultural). Both seagrass and mangrove extents increased significantly since 2016. While sea surface temperature showed no significant annual variation, sea surface partial pressure CO2, height above sea level and pH presented significant changes. Among the environmental quality variables only silicate, PO4 and phytoplankton showed significant annual varying trends. The MMI food provisioning increased significantly, indicating overexploitation that needs urgent attention. MMI regulation and cultural ES did not show significant trends overtime. Our results show that MMI ES are affected by multiple factors and their interactions can be complex and non-linear. We identified key research gaps and suggested future directions for research. We also provided relevant data that can support future ES assessments.

Continue reading ‘Marine macroinvertebrate ecosystem services under changing conditions of seagrasses and mangroves’

Phosphate limitation and ocean acidification co-shape phytoplankton physiology and community structure

A new study reports synergistic inhibitory effects of ocean acidification and phosphate limitation on the nitrogen-fixing capacity of a globally important cyanobacterium species. Inspired by the report, this Comment presents the complexity of how ocean acidification and phosphate limitation affect phytoplankton physiologies and species beyond nitrogen fixation and cyanobacteria, and what future research is needed to address the remaining crucial questions.

Increasing CO2 emission and climate change have manifold impacts on ocean primary production and carbon sequestration. One of the direct effects comes from ocean acidification due to the dissolution of ~30% of the increased CO2 into the ocean, whereas indirect impacts mainly stem from warming-driven ocean stratification that impedes upwelling of nutrient-rich deep waters leading to oligotrophication of the vast central ocean basin1. Between nitrogen and phosphate, the two major productivity-limiting nutrients, phosphate is the ‘ultimate’ limiting nutrient as it has no biogenic source, and its growth-limiting condition in the oceans is more prevalent than previously thought2. Nitrogen, in contrast, can be sourced from the atmosphere by diazotrophic bacteria through nitrogen fixation, which is often co-limited by phosphate and iron scarcity2.

Continue reading ‘Phosphate limitation and ocean acidification co-shape phytoplankton physiology and community structure’

Fossil coccolith morphological attributes as a new proxy for deep ocean carbonate chemistry

Understanding the variations in past ocean carbonate chemistry is critical to elucidating the role of the oceans in balancing the global carbon cycle. The fossil shells from marine calcifiers present in the sedimentary record are widely applied as past ocean carbon cycle proxies. However, the interpretation of these records can be challenging due to the complex physiological and ecological response to the carbonate system during an organisms’ life cycle and the potential for preservation at the seafloor. Here we present a new dissolution proxy based on the morphological attributes of coccolithophores from the Noëlaerhabdaceae family (Emiliania huxleyi > 2 µm, and small Gephyrocapsa spp.). To evaluate the influences of coccolithophore calcification and coccolith preservation on fossil morphology, we measured morphological attributes, mass, length, thickness, and shape factor (ks) of coccoliths in a laboratory dissolution experiment and surface sediment samples from the South China Sea. The coccolith morphological data in surface sediments were also analyzed with environment settings, namely surface temperature, nutrients, pH, chlorophyll a concentration, and carbonate saturation of bottom water by a redundancy analysis. Statistical analysis indicates that carbonate saturation of the deep ocean explains the highest proportion of variation in the morphological data instead of the environmental variables of the surface ocean. Moreover, the dissolution trajectory in the ks vs. length of coccoliths is comparable between natural samples and laboratory dissolution experiments, emphasizing the importance of carbonate saturation on fossil coccolith morphology. However, the mean ks alone cannot fully explain the main variations observed in our work. We propose that the normalized ks variation (), which is the ratio between the standard deviation of ks (σ) and the mean ks, could reflect different degrees of dissolution and size-selective dissolution, influenced by the assemblage composition. Applied together with the  ratio, the ks factor of fossil coccoliths in deep ocean sediments could be a potential proxy for a quantitative reconstruction of past carbonate dissolution dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Fossil coccolith morphological attributes as a new proxy for deep ocean carbonate chemistry’

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