Posts Tagged 'phytoplankton'

Voltage-gated proton channels explain coccolithophore sensitivity to ocean acidification

Coccolithophores are unicellular photosynthetic plankton that perform extraordinary feats in ionic homeostasis to fabricate intricate nano-patterned plates made of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) crystals called coccoliths (1). Outside marine science communities, coccolithophores are less known than animal calcifiers such as shellfish or the cnidarians that form coral reefs. However, coccolithophores are one of Earth’s greatest biological producers of CaCO3. The production and sinking of coccoliths play complex roles in ocean carbon cycles, helping carry organic carbon to the deep sea as well serving on a geological scale to help the ocean buffer CO2 fluctuations (23). Unlike other calcifying organisms, where precipitation of CaCO3 is extracellular, coccolithophores calcify in special intracellular Golgi-derived coccolith vesicles. To do this, they maintain among the greatest fluxes of Ca2+ and H+ known for any cell ions which would be toxic if allowed to accumulate in the cytoplasm (1). In PNAS, Kottmeier et al. (4) demonstrate how they rely on voltage-gated proton channels to expel H+ released by CaCO3 precipitation, which also offers a way forward to resolving disparate results from two decades of research on coccolithophore sensitivity to ocean acidification.

Approximately a third of human CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean, resulting in ocean acidification. As CO2 dissolves in the sea it reacts with water to form carbonic acid, generating H+ (decreasing pH) and perturbing a set of interlocked equilibria involving CO2, HCO3, CO32−, H+, and Ca2+ by increasing [HCO3], decreasing [CO32−], and lowering the saturation states of alternative forms of CaCO3 (5). The inorganic chemistry is complex but comparatively well known. The response of calcifying organisms should be simple to predict if it depended only on the tendency of CaCO3 to precipitate or dissolve in seawater: Organisms such as coccolithophores which produce calcite, the more stable form of CaCO3, should be less sensitive to ocean acidification compared to organisms like many corals which produce less-stable forms such as aragonite.

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A story of resilience: Arctic diatom Chaetoceros gelidus exhibited high physiological plasticity to changing CO2 and light levels

Arctic phytoplankton are experiencing multifaceted stresses due to climate warming, ocean acidification, retreating sea ice, and associated changes in light availability, and that may have large ecological consequences. Multiple stressor studies on Arctic phytoplankton, particularly on the bloom-forming species, may help understand their fitness in response to future climate change, however, such studies are scarce. In the present study, a laboratory experiment was conducted on the bloom-forming Arctic diatom Chaetoceros gelidus (earlier C. socialis) under variable CO2 (240 and 900 µatm) and light (50 and 100 µmol photons m-2 s-1) levels. The growth response was documented using the pre-acclimatized culture at 2°C in a closed batch system over 12 days until the dissolved inorganic nitrogen was depleted. Particulate organic carbon and nitrogen (POC and PON), pigments, cell density, and the maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) were measured on day 4 (D4), 6 (D6), 10 (D10), and 12 (D12). The overall growth response suggested that C. gelidus maintained a steady-state carboxylation rate with subsequent conversion to macromolecules as reflected in the per-cell POC contents under variable CO2 and light levels. A substantial amount of POC buildup at the low CO2 level (comparable to the high CO2 treatment) indicated the possibility of existing carbon dioxide concentration mechanisms (CCMs) that needs further investigation. Pigment signatures revealed a high level of adaptability to variable irradiance in this species without any major CO2 effect. PON contents per cell increased initially but decreased irrespective of CO2 levels when nitrogen was limited (D6 onward) possibly to recycle intracellular nitrogen resources resulting in enhanced C: N ratios. On D12 the decreased dissolved organic nitrogen levels could be attributed to consumption under nitrogen starvation. Such physiological plasticity could make C. gelidus “ecologically resilient” in the future Arctic.

Continue reading ‘A story of resilience: Arctic diatom Chaetoceros gelidus exhibited high physiological plasticity to changing CO2 and light levels’

Ocean warming and acidification affect the transitional element and macromolecular accumulation in harmful raphidophyte Heterosigma akashiwo

Despite ocean warming and acidification being expected to increase the harmful algal species worldwide, the raphidophyte Heterosigma akashiwo is reported to have decreased. However, it is unknown on the transitional scale how this species physically and metabolically modifies its elements, and macromolecular accumulation leads to such condition. With 1st,10th, and 20th culture generation under present (21℃; pCO2 400ppm [LTLC]) and projected (25℃; pCO2 1000ppm [HTHC]) ocean conditions we examined these elemental and macromolecular changes along with transcriptome sequencing. Results showed that compared to HTHC (1st generation), the (20th generation) cells showed large decreases in carbon (QC:40%), nitrogen (QN:36%), and phosphorus-quotas (QP:43%), reflected in their reduction of overall DNA and RNA quantity. Decreased metabolic pathways in photosynthesis, carbon fixation, and lipid accumulation were coincident with changes in photosynthetic efficiency, carbon, and lipid quantity with long-term (20th generation) exposure to HTHC conditions. We observed that these variations of internal metabolic changes are caused by external changes in temperature by activating the (Ca+) signaling pathway and external changes in pCO2 by altering the (proton exchange) pathways. Our results suggest that H. akashiwo in the future ocean will undergo severe changes in its elemental and macromolecular properties, leading to programmed cell death.

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Thalassiosira weissflogii grown in various Zn levels shows different ecophysiological responses to seawater acidification

Highlights

  • Zn deficient encouraged cellular silicon and sinking rate under normal pCO2.
  • Higher pCO2 decreased cellular silicon and sinking rate of Zn-deficient T. weissflogii.
  • Higher pCO2 increased cellular silicon and sinking rate in Zn-replete T. weissflogii.
  • Silica and carbon cycle could be impacted by acidification and Zn levels.

Abstract

The presence of zinc (Zn), a vital element for algal physiological functions, coupled with the silicification of diatoms implies that it plays an integral role in the carbon and silicon cycles of the sea. In this study, we examined the effects of different pCO2 and Zn levels on growth rate, elemental compositions and silicification by Thalassiosira weissflogii. The results showed that under normal pCO2 (400 μatm), cultures of T. weissflogii were depressed for growth rate and silica incorporation rate, but encouraged for cellular silicon content, Si/C, Si/N, and sinking rate when Zn deficient (0.3 pmol L−1). However, cellular silicon and sinking rate of Zn-deficient and Zn-replete (25 pmol L−1T. weissflogii were decreased and increased at higher pCO2 (800 μatm), respectively. Thus, acidification may affect diatoms significantly differently depending on the Zn levels of the ocean and then alter the biochemical cycling of carbon and silica.

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Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model

Atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations are rising at an unprecedented rate. Laboratory studies indicate a positive effect of rising CO2 on phytoplankton growth until an optimum is reached, after which the negative impact of accompanying acidification dominates. Here, we implemented carbonate system sensitivities of phytoplankton growth into our global biogeochemical model FESOM-REcoM and accounted explicitly for coccolithophores as the group most sensitive to CO2. In idealized simulations in which solely the atmospheric CO2 mixing ratio was modified, changes in competitive fitness and biomass are not only caused by the direct effects of CO2, but also by indirect effects via nutrient and light limitation as well as grazing. These cascading effects can both amplify or dampen phytoplankton responses to changing ocean pCO2 levels. For example, coccolithophore growth is negatively affected both directly by future pCO2 and indirectly by changes in light limitation, but these effects are compensated by a weakened nutrient limitation resulting from the decrease in small-phytoplankton biomass. In the Southern Ocean, future pCO2 decreases small-phytoplankton biomass and hereby the preferred prey of zooplankton, which reduces the grazing pressure on diatoms and allows them to proliferate more strongly. In simulations that encompass CO2-driven warming and acidification, our model reveals that recent observed changes in North Atlantic coccolithophore biomass are driven primarily by warming and not by CO2. Our results highlight that CO2 can change the effects of other environmental drivers on phytoplankton growth, and that cascading effects may play an important role in projections of future net primary production.

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Design of a low-cost pH-Stat to study effects of ocean acidification on growth and nutrient consumption of diatoms

Highlights

  • A low-cost pH-stat was designed to evaluate the effect of pH variations on the growth rate and nutrient consumption in multiple microalgae cultures.
  • The current pH of the ocean resulted in the highest growth rate for P. tricornutum.
  • Nitrate was the limiting nutrient in the three pH levels evaluated.
  • Phosphate and iron were related to the acclimatization response of the microalgae.
  • Efficient pH control allowed for the observation of some of the effects of climate change on diatoms related to nutrient consumption.

Abstract

Increasing CO2 emissions has modified oceanic pH levels. These pH changes affect phytoplankton growth and composition. Diatom cells constitute almost 50% of phytoplankton, and they have significant importance in the ocean food chains and biotechnology industries. Therefore, knowledge of their response to pH changes could be useful for conservation and aquaculture of these species. There are different pH-Stat systems to supply CO2 gas to the culture medium, however, it is common to use one unit or pH probe for each culture. In this study, we designed a low-cost pH-stat to regulate the pH level in fifteen simultaneous cultures. It was evaluated with Phaeodactylum tricornutum at three pH setpoints:7.5 and 7.8 as acid treatments and 8.1 as control; each experiment lasted seven days, and growth rates, latency phases and nutrient consumption rates were determined. The accuracy and precision of the pH regulated was in an acceptable level compared with other systems. The growth rate and consumption of nitrate were higher at pH 8.1, moreover differences were observed in the duration of the latency phase, suggesting a longer acclimation process at lower pH. Changes in phosphate and iron consumption indicated a higher availability in acid treatments, however they did not enhance the growth. These denoted unfavorable effects of ocean acidification on diatoms growth.

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Physical and biological effects on the carbonate system during summer in the Northern Argentine Continental Shelf (Southwestern Atlantic)

Highlights

  • New Argentine Shelf data analyzed biogeochemical mechanisms affecting the carbonate system.
  • The study region during the summer was likely an important CO2 sink.
  • Biological mechanisms affected the CO2 dynamics in the Argentine Shelf in summer.
  • Small phytoplankton (<2–3 μm) played a key role in modulating the CO2 uptake.

Abstract

The Argentine shelf and its shelf-break (Southwestern Atlantic Ocean) are known for their high biological productivity, and as an important CO2 sink region. However, many aspects of the carbonate system dynamics in the area, especially those related to the biological activity, deserve further study. Here we investigated the mechanisms affecting the carbonate system distributions, using in situ physical, chemical and biological observations collected along a section (COSTAL-AR) on the Northern Argentine Continental Shelf during two summer cruises in 2019. Our main goal was to evaluate the role of the microbial communities on the modulation of the carbonate system in the area. For that, we characterized (i) the distribution of the thermohaline properties, chlorophyll a, dissolved oxygen, carbonate system (pH, total alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon and high resolution underway CO2 fugacity, fCO2), dissolved inorganic nutrients, and (ii) the microbial communities (bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, and protozooplankton). Our results show that the COSTAL-AR section was likely an important CO2 sink and presented high seawater fCO2 spatial variability in both middle (272–430 μatm) or early (211–365 μatm) summer conditions. Phytoplankton played a key role in modulating the CO2 uptake and carbonate system spatial variability during summer, especially in the middle and outer shelf. The main contribution to CO2 fixation was given by small cells, since the microbial community was dominated by autotrophic picoplankton (<2 μm; e.g. Synechococcus sp. and coccal picophytoeukaryotes). Moreover, the influence of the Shelf-break front in ruling both the seawater fCO2 distribution and biological processes was evident. These findings provide new insights on the connection between the biology and the carbonate system in this sparsely sampled area of the southwestern Atlantic Ocean.

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Transcriptomic analysis reveals distinct mechanisms of adaptation of a polar picophytoplankter under ocean acidification conditions

Graphical abstract.

Highlights

  • Increase of carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere acidifies the ocean.
  • Ocean acidification drives the growth of a small green phytoplankter (picochlorophyte).
  • Picochlorophytes exhibit distinct metabolism compared to other polar phytoplankton.
  • Genes related to ribosomal proteins, amino acid synthesis, RNA post-transcriptional modification, nitrogen assimilation, molecular chaperones, light harvesting complexes, pigment synthesis, were found to be differentially expressed under future predicted CO2 levels.

Abstract

Human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing irreversible changes in our oceans and impacting marine phytoplankton, including a group of small green algae known as picochlorophytes. Picochlorophytes grown in natural phytoplankton communities under future predicted levels of carbon dioxide have been demonstrated to thrive, along with redistribution of the cellular metabolome that enhances growth rate and photosynthesis. Here, using next-generation sequencing technology, we measured levels of transcripts in a picochlorophyte Chlorella, isolated from the sub-Antarctic and acclimated under high and current ambient CO2 levels, to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved with its ability to acclimate to elevated CO2. Compared to other phytoplankton taxa that induce broad transcriptomic responses involving multiple parts of their cellular metabolism, the changes observed in Chlorella focused on activating gene regulation involved in different sets of pathways such as light harvesting complex binding proteins, amino acid synthesis and RNA modification, while carbon metabolism was largely unaffected. Triggering a specific set of genes could be a unique strategy of small green phytoplankton under high CO2 in polar oceans.

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An experimental study on post-mortem dissolution and overgrowth processes affecting coccolith assemblages: a rapid and complex process

Coccolith dissolution together with post-mortem morphological features are immensely important phenomena that can affect assemblage compositions, complicate taxonomic identification as well as provide valuable palaeoenvironmental insights. This study summarizes the effects of pH oscillations on post-mortem coccolith morphologies and the abundances and compositions of calcareous nannoplankton assemblages in three distinct types of material—(i) Cretaceous chalk, (ii) Miocene marls, and (iii) late Holocene calcareous ooze. Two independent experimental runs within a semi-enclosed system setting were realized to observe assemblage alterations. One experiment was realized with the presence of bacteria and, in contrast, the second one inhibited their potential effect on the studied system. The pH was gradually decreased within the range of 8.3–6.4 using a reaction of CO2 with H2O forming weak carbonic acid (H2CO3), thereby affecting CO32-. Further, a subsequent overgrowth study was carried out during spontaneous degassing accompanied by a gradual pH rise. The experiment revealed that the process and intensity of coccolith corrosion and subsequent overgrowth build-ups are influenced by a plethora of different factors such as (i) pH and associated seawater chemistry, (ii) mineral composition of the sediment, (iii) the presence of coccoliths within a protective substrate (faecal pellets, pores, pits), and (iv) the presence/absence of bacteria. Nannoplankton assemblages with corroded coccoliths or with coccoliths with overgrowth build-ups showed that the observed relative abundances of taxa experienced alteration from the original compositions. Additionally, extreme pH oscillations may result in enhanced morphological changes that make coccoliths unidentifiable structures, and might even evoke the absence of coccoliths in the fossil record.

Continue reading ‘An experimental study on post-mortem dissolution and overgrowth processes affecting coccolith assemblages: a rapid and complex process’

Elevated CO2 modulates the physiological responses of Thalassiosira pseudonana to ultraviolet radiation

Highlights

  • High CO2 exacerbated the UVR-induced inhibition on PSII activity.
  • UVR stimulated the removal rates of both PsbA and PsbD.
  • The removal of PsbD declined by high CO2 under the exposure of UVR.
  • High CO2 reversed the UVR-induced YNPQ to YNo.

Abstract

Diatoms account for a large proportion of marine primary productivity, they tend to be the predominant species in the phytoplankton communities in the surface ocean with frequent and large light fluctuations. To understand the impacts of increased CO2 on diatoms’ capacity in exploitation of variable solar radiation, we cultured a model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana with 400 or 1000ppmv CO2 and exposed it to high photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) alone or PAR plus ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to examine its physiological performances. The results showed that the maximum photochemical efficiency (Fv/fm) was significantly reduced by high PAR and PAR + UVR in T. pseudonana, UVR-induced inhibition on PSII activity was exacerbated by high CO2. PSII activity drops coincide approximately with PsbA content in the cells exposed to high PAR or PAR + UVR, which was pronounced at high CO2. The removal of PsbD in T. pseudonana cells declined under high CO2 during UVR exposure, limiting the repair capacity of PSII. In addition, high CO2 reversed the induction of energy-dependent form of NPQ by UVR to the increase of Y(No), indicating the severe damage of the photoprotective reactions. Our findings suggest that the adverse impacts of UVR on PSII function of T. pseudonana were aggravated by the elevated CO2 through modulating its capacity in repair and protection, which thereby would influence its abundance and competitiveness in phytoplankton communities.

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Investigating the effect of ocean acidification (natural and anthropogenic) on the size of Emiliania huxleyi from late Holocene sediments of the north Aegean sea (NE Mediterranean)

The impact of ocean acidification on calcareous nannoplankton has been debated among researchers. This study focused to enrich the available data on coccolith size and calcification for the cosmopolitan species Emiliania huxleyi and assess their connection to natural and anthropogenic environmental changes. The analysis was based on the M2 core from Athos basin (North Aegean Sea, Greece). In total, 80 samples were selected and processed in laboratory to prepare for Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) imaging. About 4000 E. huxleyi coccoliths were inspected under the SEM and their morphometric values were calculated. Morphometric values displayed fluctuations across the core depths, which were compared to the age model and multiproxy analyses of previous studies in the same area (Gogou et al., 2016; Skampa et al., 2019; Dimiza et al., 2020). Evident changes were based mainly to the Relative Tube Width (RTW), with a tendency towards slightly increased calcified coccoliths within the Little Ice Age (c. 1200-1850 AD). Afterwards, during the Instrumental Period (c. 1850-present) values show a decreasing pattern. It is possible that human activities, especially in the last century, have affected the marine equilibrium with higher atmospheric CO2 absorption, environmental parameters changes and depletion of bioavailable carbonate ions. Although naturally induced environmental changes in the Northern Aegean could mask the clear effect of ocean acidification on E. huxleyi, these data may contribute to a potential tool for environmental monitoring in the context of tackling future climate change.

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Responses of elemental content and macromolecule of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to reduced phosphorus availability and ocean acidification depend on light intensity

Global climate change leads to simultaneous changes in multiple environmental drivers in the marine realm. Although physiological characterization of coccolithophores have been studied under climate change, there is limited knowledge on the biochemical responses of this biogeochemically important phytoplankton group to changing multiple environmental drivers. Here we investigate the interactive effects of reduced phosphorus availability (4 to 0.4 μmol L–1), elevated pCO2 concentrations (426 to 946 μatm) and increasing light intensity (40 to 300 μmol photons m–2 s–1) on elemental content and macromolecules of the cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Reduced phosphorus availability reduces particulate organic nitrogen and protein contents under low light intensity, but not under high light intensity. Reduced phosphorus availability and ocean acidification act synergistically to increase particulate organic carbon (POC) and carbohydrate contents under high light intensity but not under low light intensity. Reduced phosphorus availability, ocean acidification and increasing light intensity act synergistically to increase the allocation of POC to carbohydrates. Under future ocean acidification and increasing light intensity, enhanced carbon fixation could increase carbon storage in the phosphorus-limited regions of the oceans where E. huxleyi dominates the phytoplankton assemblages. In each light intensity, elemental carbon to phosphorus (C : P) and nitrogen to phosphorus (N : P) ratios decrease with increasing growth rate. These results suggest that coccolithophores could reallocate chemical elements and energy to synthesize macromolecules efficiently, which allows them to regulate its elemental content and growth rate to acclimate to changing environmental conditions.

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Tipping points of marine phytoplankton to multiple environmental stressors

Globally, anthropogenic climate change is threatening marine species. However, whether and how global marine phytoplankton, which represent the base of marine food webs, will exceed their tipping points under multiple climate factors remain unclear. Here, by establishing machine learning models, we identified the tipping points of global marine phytoplankton production and resistance under eight environmental stressors. Phytoplankton production and resistance are affected by multiple factors and the temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide dominate the risks for reaching their tipping points. If the current emission scenario continues, 50% (40–61% at 90% confidence) and 41% (2–80% at 90% confidence) of tropical areas would reach the tipping points of ongoing phytoplankton production and resistance decline, respectively, in 2100. Compared with single- or few-factor studies, machine learning (for example, ensemble machine learning) provides a powerful and realistic solution for policy-makers facing large-scale ecological responses to global climate changes under multiple environmental stressors.

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Different responses of phytoplankton and zooplankton communities to current changing coastal environments

Marine plankton are faced with novel challenges associated with environmental changes such as ocean acidification, warming, and eutrophication. However, data on the effects of simultaneous environmental changes on complex natural communities in coastal ecosystems are relatively limited. Here we made a systematic analysis of biological and environmental parameters in the Bohai Sea over the past three years to suggest that plankton communities responded differently to current changing coastal environments, with the increase of phytoplankton and the decrease of zooplankton. These different changes of phyto- and zooplankton potentially resulted from the fact that both the effect of acidification as a result of pH decline and the effect of warming as a consequence of increasing temperature favored phytoplankton over zooplankton at present. Furthermore, water eutrophication and salinity as well as heavy metals Hg, Zn, and As had more or less diverse consequences for the dynamics of phytoplankton and zooplankton. Differently, with ongoing climate change, we also revealed that both phytoplankton and zooplankton would decrease in the future under the influence of interactions between acidification and warming.

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Elevated CO2 modulates the physiological responses of Thalassiosira pseudonana to ultraviolet radiation

Highlights

  • High CO2 exacerbated the UVR-induced inhibition on PSII activity.
  • UVR stimulated the removal rates of both PsbA and PsbD.
  • The removal of PsbD declined by high CO2 under the exposure of UVR.
  • High CO2 reversed the UVR-induced YNPQ to YNo.

Abstract

Diatoms account for a large proportion of marine primary productivity, they tend to be the predominant species in the phytoplankton communities in the surface ocean with frequent and large light fluctuations. To understand the impacts of increased CO2 on diatoms’ capacity in exploitation of variable solar radiation, we cultured a model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana with 400 or 1000ppmv CO2 and exposed it to high photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) alone or PAR plus ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to examine its physiological performances. The results showed that the maximum photochemical efficiency (Fv/fm) was significantly reduced by high PAR and PAR + UVR in T. pseudonana, UVR-induced inhibition on PSII activity was exacerbated by high CO2. PSII activity drops coincide approximately with PsbA content in the cells exposed to high PAR or PAR + UVR, which was pronounced at high CO2. The removal of PsbD in T. pseudonana cells declined under high CO2 during UVR exposure, limiting the repair capacity of PSII. In addition, high CO2 reversed the induction of energy-dependent form of NPQ by UVR to the increase of Y(No), indicating the severe damage of the photoprotective reactions. Our findings suggest that the adverse impacts of UVR on PSII function of T. pseudonana were aggravated by the elevated CO2 through modulating its capacity in repair and protection, which thereby would influence its abundance and competitiveness in phytoplankton communities.

Continue reading ‘Elevated CO2 modulates the physiological responses of Thalassiosira pseudonana to ultraviolet radiation’

Light history modulates growth and photosynthetic responses of a diatom to ocean acidification and UV radiation

To examine the synergetic effects of ocean acidification (OA) and light intensity on the photosynthetic performance of marine diatoms, the marine centric diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii was cultured under ambient low CO2 (LC, 390 μatm) and elevated high CO2 (HC, 1000 μatm) levels under low-light (LL, 60 μmol m−2 s−1) or high-light (HL, 220 μmol m−2 s−1) conditions for over 20 generations. HL stimulated the growth rate by 128 and 99% but decreased cell size by 9 and 7% under LC and HC conditions, respectively. However, HC did not change the growth rate under LL but decreased it by 9% under HL. LL combined with HC decreased both maximum quantum yield (FV/FM) and effective quantum yield (ΦPSII), measured under either low or high actinic light. When exposed to UV radiation (UVR), LL-grown cells were more prone to UVA exposure, with higher UVA and UVR inducing inhibition of ΦPSII compared with HL-grown cells. Light use efficiency (α) and maximum relative electron transport rate (rETRmax) were inhibited more in the HC-grown cells when UVR (UVA and UVB) was present, particularly under LL. Our results indicate that the growth light history influences the cell growth and photosynthetic responses to OA and UVR.

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Response of calcareous nannoplankton to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum in the Paratethys seaway (Tarim Basin, West China)

Highlights

  • A new, shallow marine Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) record was discovered in the eastern Tethys.
  • High-resolution calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy across the PETM was established.
  • The PETM “excursion taxa” are marker species for identifying PETM record in the eastern Tethys.
  • Low pre- and syn-PETM carbonate contents were attributed to ocean acidification and terrestrial dilution.
  • Marine productivity increased during the PETM due to elevated nutrient input from continental weathering.

Abstract

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was a rapid global warming occurred 56 million years ago and has been widely viewed as an ancient analogue to the ongoing warming driven by anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The complete and continuous Paleogene shallow marine strata well preserved and outcropped in the Tarim Basin, northwestern China are ideal to study the paleoenvironmental change of the Paratethys Seaway during the PETM. To date, no high-resolution calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy has been performed for the PETM interval in the Tarim Basin. Outcrop samples taken from the Qimugen Formation in the Kuzigongsu section contain abundant, moderately well preserved calcareous nannofossils allows for the establishment of a high-resolution biostratigraphic framework. Overall, 73 species of calcareous nannofossils from 33 genera were observed, with the dominant species including Coccolithus pelagicus, various Toweius species, Pontosphaera exilis, and Micrantholithus flos. The five calcareous nannofossil datums allow for the recognization of nannofossil Zone NP6 through Zone NP10. The common occurrence of shallow-water taxa (Micrantholithus) throughout the section suggests a middle to outer neritic setting for depositional environment of the Kuzigongsu section. The stratigraphic distribution of “excursion taxa” (Coccolithus bownii, Discoaster araneusD. acutus, Rhomboaster spp.) is consistent with the range of negative excursion in δ13Ccarb and δ18Ocarb, indicating that these excursion taxa are micropaleontological means for identifying the presence of the PETM in the Paratethys Seaway. During the PETM, the deteriorated preservation and extremely low abundance of nannofossils and near-zero wt% CaCO3 values suggest that ocean acidification occurred in the shallow water of the Paratethys Seaway. In addition, a significant increase in the species Neochiastozygus junctus, which is a high productivity indicator indicates increased surface ocean productivity. Higher primary productivity may be triggered by enhanced continental weathering delivering increased nutrient through river runoff.

Continue reading ‘Response of calcareous nannoplankton to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum in the Paratethys seaway (Tarim Basin, West China)’

Acidification of seawater attenuates the allelopathic effects of Ulva pertusa on Karenia mikimotoi

Acidification of seawater resulting from absorption of excessive carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is posing a serious threat to marine ecosystem. In this study, we hypothesized that acidified seawater attenuates allelopathic effects of macroalgae on red tide algae because the increase of dissolved carbon dioxide benefits algal growth, and investigated the allelopathic effects of Ulva pertusa on Karenia mikimotoi in response to seawater acidification by determining cell density, photosynthetic pigment content, chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, and chloroplast structure of K. mikimotoi under U. pertusa stress in original (pH=8.2) and acidified (pH=7.8) seawater. U. pertusa inhibited the growth of K. mikimotoi in the original and acidizing seawater, and the inhibition rate was positively correlated with treatment time and concentration of U. pertusa. However, acidizing condition significantly weakened the inhibition degree of U. pertusa on K. mikimotoi (P < 0.05), with the inhibition rates decreased from 51.85 to 43.16% at 10 gFW/L U. pertusa for 96 h. U. pertusa reduced contents of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll c, and carotenoid, maximum photochemical quantum yield (Fv/Fm), actual quantum yield, maximum relative electron transfer efficiency (rETRmax) of PSII, real-time fluorescence value (F), and maximum fluorescence value (Fm′) of PSII of K. mikimotoi under original and acidified conditions. And, the inhibition degree of U. pertusa under acidizing condition was significantly lower than that of original seawater group. Furthermore, the damage degree of chloroplast structure of K. mikimotoi under U. pertusa stress was more serious under original seawater condition. These results indicate that acidification of seawater attenuates the allelopathic effects of U. pertusa on K. mikimotoi.

Continue reading ‘Acidification of seawater attenuates the allelopathic effects of Ulva pertusa on Karenia mikimotoi

Net community production in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea from glider and buoy measurements

The Mediterranean Sea comprises just 0.8 % of the global oceanic surface, yet considering its size, it is regarded as a disproportionately large sink for anthropogenic carbon due to its physical and biogeochemical characteristics. An underwater glider mission was carried out in March–April 2016 close to the BOUSSOLE and DyFAMed time series moorings in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. The glider deployment served as a test of a prototype ion-sensitive field-effect transistor pH sensor. Dissolved oxygen (O2) concentrations and optical backscatter were also observed by the glider and increased between 19 March and 1 April, along with pH. These changes indicated the start of a phytoplankton spring bloom, following a period of intense mixing. Concurrent measurements of CO2 fugacity and O2 concentrations at the BOUSSOLE mooring buoy showed fluctuations, in qualitative agreement with the pattern of glider measurements. Mean net community production rates (N) were estimated from glider and buoy measurements of dissolved O2 and inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations, based on their mass budgets. Glider and buoy DIC concentrations were derived from a salinity-based total alkalinity parameterisation, glider pH and buoy CO2 fugacity. The spatial coverage of glider data allowed the calculation of advective O2 and DIC fluxes. Mean N estimates for the euphotic zone between 10 March and 3 April were (-17±36) for glider O2, (44±94) for glider DIC, (17±37) for buoy O2 and (49±86)  for buoy DIC, all indicating net metabolic balance over these 25 d. However, these 25 d were actually split into a period of net DIC increase and O2 decrease between 10 and 19 March and a period of net DIC decrease and O2 increase between 19 March and 3 April. The latter period is interpreted as the onset of the spring bloom. The regression coefficients between O2 and DIC-based N estimates were 0.25 ± 0.08 for the glider data and 0.54 ± 0.06 for the buoy, significantly lower than the canonical metabolic quotient of 1.45±0.15. This study shows the added value of co-locating a profiling glider with moored time series buoys, but also demonstrates the difficulty in estimating N, and the limitations in achievable precision.

Continue reading ‘Net community production in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea from glider and buoy measurements’

Adaptation of a marine diatom to ocean acidification increases its sensitivity to toxic metal exposure

Highlights

  • Adaptation to OA increased marine diatom’s sensitivity to heavy metals (HM).
  • OA-adapted cells decreased their growth and photosynthesis at high HM levels.
  • The increase in sensitivity is associated with reduced metabolic activity.

Abstract

Most previous studies investigating the interplay of ocean acidification (OA) and heavy metal on marine phytoplankton were only conducted in short-term, which may provide conservative estimates of the adaptive capacity of them. Here, we examined the physiological responses of long-term (~900 generations) OA-adapted and non-adapted populations of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum to different concentrations of the two heavy metals Cd and Cu. Our results showed that long-term OA selected populations exhibited significantly lower growth and reduced photosynthetic activity than ambient CO2 selected populations at relatively high heavy metal levels. Those findings suggest that the adaptations to high CO2 results in an increased sensitivity of the marine diatom to toxic metal exposure. This study provides evidence for the costs and the cascading consequences associated with the adaptation of phytoplankton to elevated CO2 conditions, and improves our understanding of the complex interactions of future OA and heavy metal pollution in marine waters.

Continue reading ‘Adaptation of a marine diatom to ocean acidification increases its sensitivity to toxic metal exposure’

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