Posts Tagged 'phytoplankton'

Quantifying the effect of anthropogenic climate change on calcifying plankton

Widely regarded as an imminent threat to our oceans, ocean acidification has been documented in all oceanic basins. Projected changes in seawater chemistry will have catastrophic biotic effects due to ocean acidification hindering biogenic carbonate production, which will in turn lead to substantial changes in marine ecosystems. However, previous attempts to quantify the effect of acidification on planktonic calcifying organisms has relied on laboratory based studies with substantial methodological limitations. This has been overcome by comparing historic plankton tows from the seminal HMS Challenger Expedition (1872–1876) with the recent Tara Oceans expedition material (2009–2016). Nano CT-scans of selected equatorial Pacific Ocean planktonic foraminifera, have revealed that all modern specimens had up to 76% thinner shells than their historic counterparts. The “Challenger Revisited” project highlights the potential of historic ocean collections as a tool to investigate ocean acidification since the early Industrial Revolution. Further analyses of such biotic archives will enable researchers to quantify the effects of anthropogenic climate change across the globe.

Continue reading ‘Quantifying the effect of anthropogenic climate change on calcifying plankton’

Po uptake in microalgae at different seawater pH: an experimental study simulating ocean acidification


• Study provides insight on 210Po concentration and likely uptake by phytoplankton under OA scenarios

• Lower 210Po and 209Po levels in microalgae were observed at low pH conditions

• Differences in 210Po concentrations in microalgae species at different pH were statistically significant after 96-h exposure

• Final seawater 210Po concentration was low at 8.2 compared to 7.5 in all experimental tanks


Climate change effects such as ocean acidification (OA) are known to affect the trace metal distribution. This experimental study provides the first data on 209Po uptake rates and 210Po concentration in five microalgae species under different pH scenarios. The experiment was conducted in replicates at three pH conditions 8.2, 8.0, and 7.5, representing the current and future climate change scenario as per IPCC RCP8.5. The 209Po uptake in the phytoplankton was highest in Thalassiosira weissflogi, i.e. 83% of the 209Po tracer was taken up at 8.2 pH whereas the lowest uptake was observed in Dunaliella salina equivalent to 20% at 7.5 pH. Similar behavior was observed in 210Po concentrations in these microalgae, where 210Po ranged between 3.16 ± 0.03 and 11.6 ± 0.04 Bq kg−1 wet weight (ww), with the highest in the Thalassioria weissflogi at 8.2 pH, and the lowest in Dunaliella salina at 7.5 pH. The difference in 209Po uptake and 210Po concentration was statistically significant (p Tetraselmis suecica > Chaetoceros muelleri > Isochrysis galbana > Dunaliella salina and 8.2 > 8.0 > 7.5. A higher concentration of 209Po in seawater was measured at low pH condition in all the experimental tanks. Though the data clearly show the difference in concentration and uptake of polonium at different pH conditions, it is not known if lower pH is affecting the adsorbed or absorbed fraction. A detailed investigation will be required to understand the process as it can have a significant effect on biomagnification and marine food chain transfer under changing climatic scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Po uptake in microalgae at different seawater pH: an experimental study simulating ocean acidification’

Impacts of temperature, CO2, and salinity on phytoplankton community composition in the western Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean has been experiencing rapid warming, which accelerates sea ice melt. Further, the increasing area and duration of sea ice-free conditions enhance ocean uptake of CO2. We conducted two shipboard experiments in September 2015 and 2016 to examine the effects of temperature, CO2, and salinity on phytoplankton dynamics to better understand the impacts of rapid environmental changes on the Arctic ecosystem. Two temperature conditions (control: <3 and 5°C above the control), two CO2 levels (control: ∼300 and 300/450 μatm above the control; i.e., 600/750 μatm), and two salinity conditions (control: 29 in 2015 and 27 in 2016, and 1.4 below the control) conditions were fully factorially manipulated in eight treatments. Higher temperatures enhanced almost all phytoplankton traits in both experiments in terms of chl-a, accessory pigments and diatom biomass. The diatom diversity index decreased due to the replacement of chain-forming Thalassiosira spp. by solitary Cylindrotheca closterium or Pseudo-nitzschia spp. under higher temperature and lower salinity in combination. Higher CO2 levels significantly increased the growth of small-sized phytoplankton (<10 μm) in both years. Decreased salinity had marginal effects but significantly increased the growth of small-sized phytoplankton under higher CO2 levels in terms of chl-a in 2015. Our results suggest that the smaller phytoplankton tend to dominate in the shelf edge region of the Chukchi Sea in the western Arctic Ocean under multiple environmental perturbations.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of temperature, CO2, and salinity on phytoplankton community composition in the western Arctic Ocean’

Impacts of Zn and Cu enrichment under ocean acidification scenario on a phytoplankton community from tropical upwelling system


• Phytoplankton showed higher resilience to increasing CO2.

• Few centric diatoms showed positive response to increasing CO2 supply.

• Addition of Zn under increasing CO2 inhibited cell division, but not biomass.

• The combined effects of increasing CO2 and Cu addition was insignificant on growth.

• Cu addition at high CO2 level promoted toxigenic pennate diatom growth.


Increasing dissolution of CO2 in the surface ocean is rapidly decreasing its pH and changing carbon chemistry which is further affecting marine biota in several ways. Phytoplankton response studies under the combination of elevated CO2 and trace metals are rare. We have conducted two consecutive onboard incubation experiments (R. V. Sindhu Sadhana; August 2017) in the eastern Arabian Sea (SW coast of India) during an upwelling event. A nutrient enriched diatom bloom was initiated onboard and grown under ambient (≈400 μatm, A-CO2) and high CO2 levels (≈1000 μatm; H–CO2) with different zinc (Zn; 1 nM) and copper (Cu) concentrations (1 nM, 2 nM and 8 nM). Phytoplankton community composition and the dominant genera were different during these two experiments. CO2 enrichment alone did not show any significant growth stimulating impact on the experimental community except enhanced cell density in the first experiment. Addition of Zn at A-CO2 level revealed no noticeable responses; whereas, the same treatment under H–CO2 level significantly reduced cell number. Considerably high protein content under H–CO2+Zn treatment was possibly counteracting Zn toxicity which also caused slower growth rate. Cu addition did not show any noticeable impact on growth and biomass production except increased protein content as well as decreased carbohydrate: protein ratio. This can be attributed to relatively higher protein synthesis than carbohydrate to alleviate oxidative stress generated by Cu. The centric diatom Chaetoceros and toxin producing pennate diatom Pseudo-nitzschias howed no significant response to either CO2 or Zn enrichment. Large centric diatom Leptocylindrus and Skeletonema responded positively to Zn addition in both CO2 levels. The former species showed the most sensitive response at the highest Cu and H–CO2 treatment; whereas, the pennate diatoms Nitzschia and Pseudo-nitzschia (toxigenic diatom) showed higher resilience under elevated CO2 and Cu levels. This observation indicated that in future ocean, increasing CO2 concentrations and trace metal pollution may potentially alter phytoplankton community structure and may facilitate toxigenic diatom bloom in the coastal waters.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of Zn and Cu enrichment under ocean acidification scenario on a phytoplankton community from tropical upwelling system’

Clam feeding plasticity reduces herbivore vulnerability to ocean warming and acidification

Ocean warming and acidification affect species populations, but how interactions within communities are affected and how this translates into ecosystem functioning and resilience remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that experimental ocean warming and acidification significantly alters the interaction network among porewater nutrients, primary producers, herbivores and burrowing invertebrates in a seafloor sediment community, and is linked to behavioural plasticity in the clam Scrobicularia plana. Warming and acidification induced a shift in the clam’s feeding mode from predominantly suspension feeding under ambient conditions to deposit feeding with cascading effects on nutrient supply to primary producers. Surface-dwelling invertebrates were more tolerant to warming and acidification in the presence of S. plana, most probably due to the stimulatory effect of the clam on their microalgal food resources. This study demonstrates that predictions of population resilience to climate change require consideration of non-lethal effects such as behavioural changes of key species.

Continue reading ‘Clam feeding plasticity reduces herbivore vulnerability to ocean warming and acidification’

Climate change and harmful benthic microalgae


• Global SST increases of 0.4–1.4 °C by 2055 will promote growth rates of many BHABs.

• Steep declines in growth are expected in areas where temperatures exceed 31 °C.

• Migration to deeper, cooler habitats may provide protection from high temperatures.

• Latitudinal range extensions to both the north and the south are expected.

• Changes in salinity, pH, light are secondary to temperature in regulating BHABs.

• Sentinel sites recommended for long-term monitoring to detect range extensions.


Sea surface temperatures in the world’s oceans are projected to warm by 0.4–1.4 °C by mid twenty-first century causing many tropical and sub-tropical harmful dinoflagellate genera like Gambierdiscus, Fukuyoa and Ostreopsis (benthic harmful algal bloom species, BHABs) to exhibit higher growth rates over much of their current geographic range, resulting in higher population densities. The primary exception to this trend will be in the tropics where temperatures exceed species-specific upper thermal tolerances (30–31 °C) beyond which growth slows significantly. As surface waters warm, migration to deeper habitats is expected to provide refuge. Range extensions of several degrees of latitude also are anticipated, but only where species-specific habitat requirements can be met (e.g., temperature, suitable substrate, low turbulence, light, salinity, pH). The current understanding of habitat requirements that determine species distributions are reviewed to provide fuller understanding of how individual species will respond to climate change from the present to 2055 while addressing the paucity of information on environmental factors controlling small-scale distribution in localized habitats. Based on the available information, we hypothesized how complex environmental interactions can influence abundance and potential range extensions of BHAB species in different biogeographic regions and identify sentinel sites appropriate for long-term monitoring programs to detect range extensions and reduce human health risks.

Continue reading ‘Climate change and harmful benthic microalgae’

Algal density mediates the photosynthetic responses of a marine macroalga Ulva conglobata (Chlorophyta) to temperature and pH changes


• Increased algal densities reduce photosynthesis and respiration of Ulva conglobata.

• Algal density mediates the interactive effect of increased temperature and lowered pH.

• Altered temperature and pH oppositely affect photosynthetic rate and saturation light.


Growing of macroalgae increases their biomass densities in natural habitats. To explore how the altered algal density impacts their photosynthetic responses to changes of environmental factors, we compared the photosynthesis versus irradiance characteristics of a marine green macroalga Ulva conglobata under low [2.0 g fresh weight (FW) L−1], medium (6.0 g FW L−1) and high biomass densities (12.0 g FW L−1), and under a matrix of temperatures (20, 25, 30 and 35 °C) and pH levels (7.8, 8.2 and 8.6). Increased algal densities decreased the photosynthetic O2 evolution rate among all combined temperature and pH treatments, in parallel with the decrease of light-utilizing efficiency (α, the initial slope) and maximum photosynthetic rate (Pmax) and the increase of light saturation point (EK). Rising temperature interacted with lowered pH to increase the α under low but not under high algal densities. Rising temperature increased the Pmax and decreased the EK under low algal density, but not under high density. Lowered pH promoted the Pmax and EK under all three algal densities. The increased temperature enhanced the dark respiration (Rd) and light compensation point (EC), while the altered pH showed a limited effect. Moreover, the increased algal density reduced the Rd, and had a limited effect on the EC. In addition, our results indicate that changing algal densities caused the complex photophysiological changes in responses to the temperature and pH changes, and these complex responses resolved into a close relation between Rd and Pmax across the matrix of temperatures and pH levels.

Continue reading ‘Algal density mediates the photosynthetic responses of a marine macroalga Ulva conglobata (Chlorophyta) to temperature and pH changes’

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Powered by FeedBurner

Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 1,325,342 hits


Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book