Posts Tagged 'Porifera'

Sponge bioerosion versus aqueous pCO2: morphometric assessment of chips and etching fissures

Bioeroding sponges are important macroborers that chemically cut out substrate particles (chips) and mechanically remove them, thereby contributing to reef-associated sediment. These chemical and mechanical proportions vary with elevated levels of partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2). To assess related impacts, the morphometric parameters “chip diameter” and “etching fissure width” were analyzed for Cliona orientalis Thiele, 1900, hypothesizing that their dimensions would differ with different pCO2 exposures (72 h at ca. 400, 750 and 1700 μatm). Under ambient conditions, we obtained a mean chip diameter of 21.6 ± 0.7 μm and a mean fissure width of 0.29 ± 0.01 μm. Chips were evenly distributed across the medium and coarse silt fractions regardless of treatment. We could not find a reliable pCO2 treatment effect for chip diameter and fissure width, but we observed strong data variability not related to our key questions. A hierarchical data design further reduced the test power. Fissure width was the more sensitive, but also more variable parameter. Sample size analyses nevertheless indicated that we had processed enough data. Thus, we reject our scenario of an increase in fissure width and consequent reduction in chip size to explain why chemical sponge bioerosion increases more strongly than the mechanical counterpart. Instead, we propose that a lowered ambient pH may favor respiratory acid build-up in the sponge tissue, possibly leading to a less localized bioerosion, causing bias towards more chemical bioerosion. Overall, this does not seem to affect the morphometry of sponge chips and the quality of sponge-generated sediment.

Continue reading ‘Sponge bioerosion versus aqueous pCO2: morphometric assessment of chips and etching fissures’

pH regulation and tissue coordination pathways promote calcium carbonate bioerosion by excavating sponges

Coral reefs are threatened by a multitude of environmental and biotic influences. Among these, excavating sponges raise particular concern since they bore into coral skeleton forming extensive cavities which lead to weakening and loss of reef structures. Sponge bioerosion is achieved by a combination of chemical dissolution and mechanical chip removal and ocean acidification has been shown to accelerate bioerosion rates. However, despite the ecological relevance of sponge bioerosion, the exact chemical conditions in which dissolution takes place and how chips are removed remain elusive. Using fluorescence microscopy, we show that intracellular pH is lower at etching sites compared to ambient seawater and the sponge’s tissue. This is realised through the extension of filopodia filled with low intracellular pH vesicles suggesting that protons are actively transported into this microenvironment to promote CaCO3 dissolution. Furthermore, fusiform myocyte-like cells forming reticulated pathways were localised at the interface between calcite and sponge. Such cells may be used by sponges to contract a conductive pathway to remove chips possibly instigated by excess Ca2+ at the boring site. The mechanism underlying CaCO3 dissolution by sponges provides new insight into how environmental conditions can enhance dissolution and improves predictions of future rates of coral dissolution due to sponge activity.

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Sponges to be winners under near-future climate scenarios

Sponges are functionally important components of global benthic environments and have been proposed as potential winners under future climate scenarios. We review the evidence to support this hypothesis by examining the individual and combined effects of ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA) on sponges and comparing sponge responses with tolerance thresholds for other benthic organisms. Although sponges are generally tolerant of OA and may even benefit from elevated partial pressure of carbon dioxide, they are often sensitive to seawater temperatures only a few degrees higher than their normal range. Sponge responses to the combined effects of OA and OW are generally more positive than their response to OW alone. We found that sponges are generally less affected by OW or OA than are a number of currently dominant benthic organisms, such as corals. Therefore, sponges are expected to benefit under near-future climate scenarios, although species-specific differences in tolerance will likely shift the sponge assemblage composition toward more resilient species.

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In situ responses of the sponge microbiome to ocean acidification

Climate change is causing rapid changes in reef structure, biodiversity, and function, though most sponges are predicted to tolerate conditions projected for 2100. Sponges maintain intimate relationships with microbial symbionts, with previous studies suggesting that microbial flexibility may be pivotal to success under ocean acidification. We performed a reciprocal transplantation of the coral reef sponges Coelocarteria singaporensis and Stylissa cf. flabelliformis between a control reef site and an adjacent CO2 vent site in Papua New Guinea to explore how the sponge microbiome responds to ocean acidification. Microbial communities of C. singaporensis, which differed initially between sites, did not shift towards characteristic control or vent microbiomes, even though relative abundances of Chloroflexi and Cyanobacteria increased and that of Thaumarchaeota decreased seven months after transplantation to the control site. Microbial communities of S. cf. flabelliformis, which were initially stable between sites, did not respond specifically to transplantation but collectively exhibited a significant change over time, with a relative increase in Thaumarchaeota and decrease in Proteobacteria in all treatment groups. The lack of a community shift upon transplantation to the vent site suggests that microbial flexibility, at least in the adult life-history stage, does not necessarily underpin host survival under ocean acidification.

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Eating in an acidifying ocean: a quantitative review of elevated CO2 effects on the feeding rates of calcifying marine invertebrates

Feeding is fundamental for all heterotrophic organisms, providing the means to acquire energy for basic life processes. Recent studies have suggested that experimental ocean acidification (OA) can alter the feeding performance of marine calcifying invertebrates, but results have been inconsistent. While several reviews pertaining to the biological effects of OA exist, none provide a synthesis of OA effects on feeding performance. Here, we provide a quantitative analysis of published experiments testing for effects of elevated CO2 on feeding rates of marine calcifying invertebrates. Results revealed that suspension-feeding molluscs and predatory and grazing echinoderms experienced depressed feeding rates under elevated CO2, while arthropods appeared unaffected; larval and juvenile animals were more susceptible to CO2 effects than adults. Feeding strategy did not appear to influence the overall taxonomic trend, nor did habitat, although exposure time did have an effect. AIC model selection revealed that Phylum best predicted effect size; life stage and exposure time were also included in candidate models. Based on these results, we synthesize potential physiological attributes of different taxa that may drive OA sensitivities in feeding rates, which could potentially result in community-level impacts. We also discuss CO2 effects on calcifier feeding in the context of elevated temperature and other global marine change stressors, and highlight other areas for future research.

Continue reading ‘Eating in an acidifying ocean: a quantitative review of elevated CO2 effects on the feeding rates of calcifying marine invertebrates’

Responses of two temperate sponge species to ocean acidification

There are still major gaps in our understanding of the impact of ocean acidification (OA) on some groups of organisms within different geographic regions. We investigated the effect of OA on two common and ecologically important temperate sponge species in New Zealand (Tethya bergquistae and Crella incrustans). Sponges were kept at pH 8 (control) and 7.6 for 4 weeks. Responses of the two species varied, with T. bergquistae kept at pH 7.6 showing some mortality in response to reduced pH and evidence of tissues necrosis. In contrast, only one C. incrustans died in the pH 7.6 treatment and showed little evidence of any tissue degradation. Only T. bergquistae showed evidence for physiological effects of reduced pH as respiration rates were generally higher in the pH 7.6 treatment. Our results provide preliminary evidence to support a general tolerance of temperate sponges to reduced pH, but that some species-specific responses may exist.

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Bleaching and mortality of a photosymbiotic bioeroding sponge under future carbon dioxide emission scenarios

The bioeroding sponge Cliona orientalis is photosymbiotic with dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium and is pervasive on the Great Barrier Reef. We investigated how C. orientalis responded to past and future ocean conditions in a simulated community setting. The experiment lasted over an Austral summer under four carbon dioxide emission scenarios: a pre-industrial scenario (PI), a present-day scenario (PD; control), and two future scenarios of combined ocean acidification and ocean warming, i.e., B1 (intermediate) and A1FI (extreme). The four scenarios also simulated natural variability of carbon dioxide partial pressure and temperature in seawater. Responses of C. orientalis generally remained similar between the PI and PD treatments. C. orientalis under B1 displayed a dramatic increase in lateral tissue extension, but bleached and displayed reduced rates of respiration and photosynthesis. Some B1 sponge replicates died by the end of the experiment. Under A1FI, strong bleaching and subsequent mortality of all C. orientalis replicates occurred at an early stage of the experiment. Mortality arrested bioerosion by C. orientalis under B1 and A1FI. Overall, the absolute amount of calcium carbonate eroded by C. orientalis under B1 or A1FI was similar to that under PI or PD at the end of the experiment. Although bioerosion rates were raised by short-term experimental acidification in previous studies, our findings from the photosymbiotic C. orientalis imply that the effects of bioerosion on reef carbonate budgets may only be temporary if the bioeroders cannot survive long-term in the future oceans.

Continue reading ‘Bleaching and mortality of a photosymbiotic bioeroding sponge under future carbon dioxide emission scenarios’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book