Posts Tagged 'prokaryotes'

Ocean acidification changes the structure of an Antarctic coastal protistan community (update)

Antarctic near-shore waters are amongst the most sensitive in the world to ocean acidification. Microbes occupying these waters are critical drivers of ecosystem productivity, elemental cycling and ocean biogeochemistry, yet little is known about their sensitivity to ocean acidification. A six-level, dose–response experiment was conducted using 650 L incubation tanks (minicosms) adjusted to a gradient in fugacity of carbon dioxide (fCO2) from 343 to 1641 µatm. The six minicosms were filled with near-shore water from Prydz Bay, East Antarctica, and the protistan composition and abundance was determined by microscopy during 18 days of incubation. No CO2-related change in the protistan community composition was observed during the initial 8 day acclimation period under low light. Thereafter, the response of both autotrophic and heterotrophic protists to fCO2 was species-specific. The response of diatoms was mainly cell size related; microplanktonic diatoms ( >  20 µm) increased in abundance with low to moderate fCO2 (343–634 µatm) but decreased at fCO2  ≥  953 µatm. Similarly, the abundance of Phaeocystis antarctica increased with increasing fCO2 peaking at 634 µatm. Above this threshold the abundance of micro-sized diatoms and P. antarctica fell dramatically, and nanoplanktonic diatoms ( ≤  20 µm) dominated, therefore culminating in a significant change in the protistan community composition. Comparisons of these results with previous experiments conducted at this site show that the fCO2 thresholds are similar, despite seasonal and interannual differences in the physical and biotic environment. This suggests that near-shore microbial communities are likely to change significantly near the end of this century if anthropogenic CO2 release continues unabated, with profound ramifications for near-shore Antarctic ecosystem food webs and biogeochemical cycling.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification changes the structure of an Antarctic coastal protistan community (update)’

Inorganic carbon and pH dependency of Trichodesmium’s photosynthetic rates

We established the relationship between photosynthetic carbon fixation rates and pH, CO2 and HCO3 concentrations in the diazotroph Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101. Inorganic 14C-assimilation was measured in TRIS-buffered ASW medium where the absolute and relative concentrations of CO2, pH and HCO3 were manipulated. First, we varied the total dissolved inorganic carbon concentration (TIC) (< 0 to ~ 5 mM) at constant pH, so ratios of CO2 and HCO3 remained relatively constant. Second, we varied pH (~ 8.54 to 7.52) at constant TIC, so CO2 increased whilst HCO3 declined. We found that 14C-assimilation could be described by the same function of CO2 for both approaches but showed different dependencies on HCO3 when pH was varied at constant TIC than when TIC was varied at constant pH. A numerical model of Trichodesmium’s CCM showed carboxylation rates are modulated by HCO3 and pH. The decrease in Ci assimilation at low CO2, when TIC was varied, is due to HCO3 uptake limitation of the carboxylation rate. Conversely, when pH was varied, Ci assimilation declined due to a high-pH mediated increase in HCO3 and CO2 leakage rates, potentially coupled to other processes (uncharacterised within the CCM model) that restrict Ci assimilation rates under high-pH conditions.

Continue reading ‘Inorganic carbon and pH dependency of Trichodesmium’s photosynthetic rates’

Microalgal photophysiology and macronutrient distribution in summer sea ice in the Amundsen and Ross Seas, Antarctica

Our study addresses how environmental variables, such as macronutrients concentrations, snow cover, carbonate chemistry and salinity affect the photophysiology and biomass of Antarctic sea-ice algae. We have measured vertical profiles of inorganic macronutrients (phosphate, nitrite + nitrate and silicic acid) in summer sea ice and photophysiology of ice algal assemblages in the poorly studied Amundsen and Ross Seas sectors of the Southern Ocean. Brine-scaled bacterial abundance, chl a and macronutrient concentrations were often high in the ice and positively correlated with each other. Analysis of photosystem II rapid light curves showed that microalgal cells in samples with high phosphate and nitrite + nitrate concentrations had reduced maximum relative electron transport rate and photosynthetic efficiency. We also observed strong couplings of PSII parameters to snow depth, ice thickness and brine salinity, which highlights a wide range of photoacclimation in Antarctic pack-ice algae. It is likely that the pack ice was in a post-bloom situation during the late sea-ice season, with low photosynthetic efficiency and a high degree of nutrient accumulation occurring in the ice. In order to predict how key biogeochemical processes are affected by future changes in sea ice cover, such as in situ photosynthesis and nutrient cycling, we need to understand how physicochemical properties of sea ice affect the microbial community. Our results support existing hypothesis about sea-ice algal photophysiology, and provide additional observations on high nutrient concentrations in sea ice that could influence the planktonic communities as the ice is retreating.

Continue reading ‘Microalgal photophysiology and macronutrient distribution in summer sea ice in the Amundsen and Ross Seas, Antarctica’

An integrated response of Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101 growth and photo-physiology to iron, CO2, and light intensity

We have assessed how varying CO2 (180, 380, and 720 μatm) and growth light intensity (40 and 400 μmol photons m−2 s−1) affected Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101 growth and photophysiology over free iron (Fe′) concentrations between 20 and 9,600 pM. We found significant iron dependencies of growth rate and the initial slope and maximal relative PSII electron transport rates (rPm). Under iron-limiting concentrations, high-light increased growth rates and rPm; possibly indicating a lower allocation of resources to iron-containing photosynthetic proteins. Higher CO2 increased growth rates across all iron concentrations, enabled growth to occur at lower Fe′ concentrations, increased rPm and lowered the iron half saturation constants for growth (Km). We attribute these CO2 responses to the operation of the CCM and the ATP spent/saved for CO2 uptake and transport at low and high CO2, respectively. It seems reasonable to conclude that T. erythraeum IMS101 can exhibit a high degree of phenotypic plasticity in response to CO2, light intensity and iron-limitation. These results are important given predictions of increased dissolved CO2 and water column stratification (i.e., higher light exposures) over the coming decades.

Continue reading ‘An integrated response of Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101 growth and photo-physiology to iron, CO2, and light intensity’

Elevated temperature drives kelp microbiome dysbiosis, while elevated carbon dioxide induces water microbiome disruption

Global climate change includes rising temperatures and increased pCO2 concentrations in the ocean, with potential deleterious impacts on marine organisms. In this case study we conducted a four-week climate change incubation experiment, and tested the independent and combined effects of increased temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2), on the microbiomes of a foundation species, the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera, and the surrounding water column. The water and kelp microbiome responded differently to each of the climate stressors. In the water microbiome, each condition caused an increase in a distinct microbial order, whereas the kelp microbiome exhibited a reduction in the dominant kelp-associated order, Alteromondales. The water column microbiomes were most disrupted by elevated pCO2, with a 7.3 fold increase in Rhizobiales. The kelp microbiome was most influenced by elevated temperature and elevated temperature in combination with elevated pCO2. Kelp growth was negatively associated with elevated temperature, and the kelp microbiome showed a 5.3 fold increase Flavobacteriales and a 2.2 fold increase alginate degrading enzymes and sulfated polysaccharides. In contrast, kelp growth was positively associated with the combination of high temperature and high pCO2 ‘future conditions’, with a 12.5 fold increase in Planctomycetales and 4.8 fold increase in Rhodobacteriales. Therefore, the water and kelp microbiomes acted as distinct communities, where the kelp was stabilizing the microbiome under changing pCO2 conditions, but lost control at high temperature. Under future conditions, a new equilibrium between the kelp and the microbiome was potentially reached, where the kelp grew rapidly and the commensal microbes responded to an increase in mucus production.

Continue reading ‘Elevated temperature drives kelp microbiome dysbiosis, while elevated carbon dioxide induces water microbiome disruption’

Plankton responses to ocean acidification: the role of nutrient limitation


• Ocean acidification increases phytoplankton standing stock.
• This increase is more pronounced in smaller-sized taxa.
• Primary consumers reac differently depending on nutrient availability.
• Bacteria and micro-heterotrophs benefited under limiting conditions.
• In general, heterotrophs are negatively affected at nutrient replete periods.


In situ mesocosm experiments on the effect of ocean acidification (OA) are an important tool for investigating potential OA-induced changes in natural plankton communities. In this study we combined results from various in-situ mesocosm studies in two different ocean regions (Arctic and temperate waters) to reveal general patterns of plankton community shifts in response to OA and how these changes are modulated by inorganic nutrient availability. Overall, simulated OA caused an increase in phytoplankton standing stock, which was more pronounced in smaller-sized taxa. This effect on primary producers was channelled differently into heterotroph primary consumers depending on the inorganic nutrient availability. Under limiting conditions, bacteria and micro-heterotrophs benefited with inconsistent responses of larger heterotrophs. During nutrient replete periods, heterotrophs were in general negatively affected, although there was an increase of some mesozooplankton developmental stages (i.e. copepodites). We hypothesize that changes in phytoplankton size distribution and community composition could be responsible for these food web responses.

Continue reading ‘Plankton responses to ocean acidification: the role of nutrient limitation’

Predictable ecological response to rising CO2 of a community of marine phytoplankton

Rising atmospheric CO2 and ocean acidification are fundamentally altering conditions for life of all marine organisms, including phytoplankton. Differences in CO2 related physiology between major phytoplankton taxa lead to differences in their ability to take up and utilize CO2. These differences may cause predictable shifts in the composition of marine phytoplankton communities in response to rising atmospheric CO2. We report an experiment in which seven species of marine phytoplankton, belonging to four major taxonomic groups (cyanobacteria, chlorophytes, diatoms, and coccolithophores), were grown at both ambient (500 μatm) and future (1,000 μatm) CO2 levels. These phytoplankton were grown as individual species, as cultures of pairs of species and as a community assemblage of all seven species in two culture regimes (high‐nitrogen batch cultures and lower‐nitrogen semicontinuous cultures, although not under nitrogen limitation). All phytoplankton species tested in this study increased their growth rates under elevated CO2 independent of the culture regime. We also find that, despite species‐specific variation in growth response to high CO2, the identity of major taxonomic groups provides a good prediction of changes in population growth and competitive ability under high CO2. The CO2‐induced growth response is a good predictor of CO2‐induced changes in competition (R2 > .93) and community composition (R2 > .73). This study suggests that it may be possible to infer how marine phytoplankton communities respond to rising CO2 levels from the knowledge of the physiology of major taxonomic groups, but that these predictions may require further characterization of these traits across a diversity of growth conditions. These findings must be validated in the context of limitation by other nutrients. Also, in natural communities of phytoplankton, numerous other factors that may all respond to changes in CO2, including nitrogen fixation, grazing, and variation in the limiting resource will likely complicate this prediction.

Continue reading ‘Predictable ecological response to rising CO2 of a community of marine phytoplankton’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book