Posts Tagged 'prokaryotes'

The impact of high CO2 and low pH on the organic carbon characterization

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) provides a means to halt emissions. CCS under the seabed has some associated risks, such as seepage of CO2 from the storage site that in turn can cause localized ocean acidification (OA). The OA affects the marine chemistry and the different species of marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) as well as the DOC transformation of the marine bacteria. These changes could potentially alter the long-term carbon storage capacity of the ocean. The CO2Marine project aimed to study the changes in the marine chemistry and bacterial degradation under high-pressure, long-term, low pH conditions. In this thesis, the intention was to study the effect that the low pH conditions would have on the DOC and the bacterial activity and to characterize the different DOC species with liquid chromatography- mass spectrometry (LC-MS). What we found was a decrease in the concentration of DOC and particulate organic carbon (POC) under low pH stress. The DOC compounds characterized were different between treatments and showed an apparent shift from negatively charged to positively charged. There was a higher bacterial degradation activity after low pH stress however; a decreased amount of recalcitrant DOC (RDOC) was produced. 11 potentially RDOC compounds were identified.

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Processes that contribute to decreased dimethyl sulfide production in response to ocean acidification in subtropical waters

Long-term time series data show that ocean acidification is occurring in the subtropical oceans. As a component of an in situ mesocosm experiment carried out off Gran Canaria in the subtropical North Atlantic, we examined the influence of ocean acidification on the net production of dimethylsulfide (DMS). Over 23 days under oligotrophic conditions, time-integrated DMS concentrations showed an inverse relationship of −0.21 ± 0.02 nmol DMS nmol−1 H+ across the gradient of H+ concentration of 8.8–23.3 nmol l−1, equivalent to a range of pCO2 of 400–1,252 atm. Proportionally similar decreases in the concentrations of both dissolved and particulate dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) were observed in relation to increasing H+ concentration between the mesocosms. The reduced net production of DMSP with increased acidity appeared to result from a decrease in abundance of a DMSP-rich nanophytoplankton population. A 35S-DMSP tracer approach was used to determine rates of dissolved DMSP catabolism, including DMS production, across the mesocosm treatments. Over a phase of increasing DMS concentrations during the experiment, the specific rates of DMS production were significantly reduced at elevated H+ concentration. These rates were closely correlated to the rates of net DMS production indicating that transformation of dissolved DMSP to DMS by bacteria was a major component of DMS production. It was not possible to resolve whether catabolism of DMSP was directly influenced by H+ concentrations or was an indirect response in the bacterial community composition associated with reduced DMSP availability. There is a pressing need to understand how subtropical planktonic communities respond to the predicted gradual prolonged ocean acidification, as alterations in the emission of DMS from the vast subtropical oceans could influence atmospheric chemistry and potentially climate, over a large proportion of the Earth’s surface.

Continue reading ‘Processes that contribute to decreased dimethyl sulfide production in response to ocean acidification in subtropical waters’

Potential impact of global climate change on benthic deep-sea microbes

Benthic deep-sea environments are the largest ecosystem on Earth, covering ∼65% of the Earth surface. Microbes inhabiting this huge biome at all water depths represent the most abundant biological components and a relevant portion of the biomass of the biosphere, and play a crucial role in global biogeochemical cycles. Increasing evidence suggests that global climate changes are affecting also deep-sea ecosystems, both directly (causing shifts in bottom-water temperature, oxygen concentration and pH) and indirectly (through changes in surface oceans’ productivity and in the consequent export of organic matter to the seafloor). However, the responses of the benthic deep-sea biota to such shifts remain largely unknown. This applies particularly to deep-sea microbes, which include bacteria, archaea, microeukaryotes and their viruses. Understanding the potential impacts of global change on the benthic deep-sea microbial assemblages and the consequences on the functioning of the ocean interior is a priority to better forecast the potential consequences at global scale. Here we explore the potential changes in the benthic deep-sea microbiology expected in the coming decades using case studies on specific systems used as test models.

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Baltic Sea diazotrophic cyanobacterium is negatively affected by acidification and warming

Nitrogen fixation is a key source of nitrogen in the Baltic Sea which counteracts nitrogen loss processes in the deep anoxic basins. Laboratory and field studies have indicated that single-strain nitrogen-fixing (diazotrophic) cyanobacteria from the Baltic Sea are sensitive to ocean acidification and warming, 2 drivers of marked future change in the marine environment. Here, we enclosed a natural plankton community in 12 indoor mesocosms (volume ~1400 l) and manipulated partial pressure of carbon dioxide ( pCO2) in seawater to yield 6 CO2 treatments with 2 different temperature treatments (16.6°C and 22.4°C, pCO2 range = 360-2030 µatm). We followed the filamentous, heterocystous diazotrophic cyanobacteria community (Nostocales, primarily Nodularia spumigena) over 4 wk. Our results indicate that heterocystous diazotrophic cyanobacteria may become less competitive in natural plankton communities under ocean acidification. Elevated CO2 had a negative impact on Nodularia sp. biomass, which was exacerbated by warming. Our results imply that Nodularia sp. may contribute less to new nitrogen inputs in the Baltic Sea in the future.

Continue reading ‘Baltic Sea diazotrophic cyanobacterium is negatively affected by acidification and warming’

The effects of ocean acidification on Prochlorococcus

Prochlorococcus is the most abundant cyanobacteria in the global ocean, and is a part of the marine microbial loop. Climate change, a stressor, presents many threats to Prochlorococcus, two of which are of major concern: increased temperature and increased acidity. Both pH and temperature are not constant and vary in the ocean seasonally, diurnally, and meteorologically. This variation suggests that stress related to interactions with these variables may be complex. This present study examined the effects of lowered pH and increased temperature on Prochlorococcus in the short term. Two strains of Prochlorococcus, high-light and low-light, were manipulated to experience increased temperature, decreased pH, and a combination of the effects and both strains’ responses was observed. Photosynthetic health significantly differed in the low-light clade when the pH was lowered (p = 0.045). Extracted chlorophyll showed statistical variation in the high-light clade when pH was lowered (p = 0.036), and in the low-light clade in both treatments where pH was lowered and temperature was increased (both p < 0.001). There was no statistical difference when temperature and pH were manipulated at the same time. However, more data is needed to see if these results are replicable and to see how this would affect grazing intensity and community structure.

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Impact of ocean acidification on the biogeochemistry and meiofaunal assemblage of carbonate-rich sediments: results from core incubations (Bay of Villefranche, NW Mediterranean Sea)


• A sediment incubation experiment to assess the effect of ocean acidification
• Porewater concentration gradients and sediment-water fluxes (DIC, TA, pH, Ca2+, O2)
• Ocean acidification impacts early diagenesis in carbonate-rich sediments.
• CaCO3 dissolution and the TA release may increase the buffering capacity of bottom water.


Marine sediments are an important carbonate reservoir whose partial dissolution could buffer seawater pH decreases in the water column as a consequence of anthropogenic CO2 uptake by the ocean. This study investigates the impact of ocean acidification on the carbonate chemistry at the sediment-water interface (SWI) of shallow-water carbonate sediments. Twelve sediment cores were sampled at one station in the Bay of Villefranche (NW Mediterranean Sea). Four sediment cores were immediately analyzed in order to determine the initial distribution (T0) of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), pH and dissolved oxygen (O2) in the porewaters and to quantify sediment-water fluxes. Four other cores were kept submerged in the laboratory for 25 days with ambient seawater (pHT = 8.12) and the remaining four cores were incubated with acidified seawater (average pH offset of −0.68). This acidification experiment was carried out in an open-flow system, in the dark and at in-situ temperature (15 °C). Every three days, sediment-water fluxes (DIC, TA, pH, O2 and nutrients) were determined using a whole core 12-h incubation technique. Additionally, vertical O2 and pH microprofiles were regularly recorded in the first 2 cm of the sediment during the entire experiment. At the end of the experiment, TA, DIC and Ca2+ concentrations were analyzed in the porewaters and the abundance and taxonomic composition of meiofaunal organisms were assessed. The saturation states of the porewaters with respect to calcite and aragonite were over-saturated but under-saturated with respect to 12 mol% Mg-calcite, in both acidified and non-acidified treatments. The sediment-water fluxes of TA and DIC increased in the acidified treatment, likely as a consequence of enhanced carbonate dissolution. In contrast, the acidification of the overlying water did not significantly affect the O2 and nutrients fluxes at the SWI. Meiofaunal abundance decreased in both treatments over the duration of the experiment, but the organisms seemed unaffected by the acidification. Our results demonstrate that carbonate dissolution increased under acidified conditions but other parameters, such as microbial redox processes, were apparently not affected by the pH decrease, at least during the duration of our experiment. The dissolution of sedimentary carbonates and the associated release of TA may potentially buffer bottom water, depending on the intensity of the TA flux, the TA/DIC ratio, vertical mixing and, therefore, the residence time of bottom water. Under certain conditions, this process may mitigate the effect of ocean acidification on benthic ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification on the biogeochemistry and meiofaunal assemblage of carbonate-rich sediments: results from core incubations (Bay of Villefranche, NW Mediterranean Sea)’

Acidification increases abundances of Vibrionales and Planctomycetia associated to a seaweed-grazer system: potential consequences for disease and prey digestion efficiency

Ocean acidification significantly affects marine organisms in several ways, with complex interactions. Seaweeds might benefit from rising CO2 through increased photosynthesis and carbon acquisition, with subsequent higher growth rates. However, changes in seaweed chemistry due to increased CO2 may change the nutritional quality of tissue for grazers. In addition, organisms live in close association with a diverse microbiota, which can also be influenced by environmental changes, with feedback effects. As gut microbiomes are often linked to diet, changes in seaweed characteristics and associated microbiome can affect the gut microbiome of the grazer, with possible fitness consequences. In this study, we experimentally investigated the effects of acidification on the microbiome of the invasive brown seaweed Sargassum muticum and a native isopod consumer Synisoma nadejda. Both were exposed to ambient CO2 conditions (380 ppm, pH 8.16) and an acidification treatment (1,000 ppm, pH 7.86) for three weeks. Microbiome diversity and composition were determined using high-throughput sequencing of the variable regions V5-7 of 16S rRNA. We anticipated that as a result of acidification, the seaweed-associated bacterial community would change, leading to further changes in the gut microbiome of grazers. However, no significant effects of elevated CO2 on the overall bacterial community structure and composition were revealed in the seaweed. In contrast, significant changes were observed in the bacterial community of the grazer gut. Although the bacterial community of S. muticum as whole did not change, Oceanospirillales and Vibrionales (mainly Pseudoalteromonas) significantly increased their abundance in acidified conditions. The former, which uses organic matter compounds as its main source, may have opportunistically taken advantage of the possible increase of the C/N ratio in the seaweed under acidified conditions. Pseudoalteromonas, commonly associated to diseased seaweeds, suggesting that acidification may facilitate opportunistic/pathogenic bacteria. In the gut of S. nadejda, the bacterial genus Planctomycetia increased abundance under elevated CO2. This shift might be associated to changes in food (S. muticum) quality under acidification. Planctomycetia are slow-acting decomposers of algal polymers that could be providing the isopod with an elevated algal digestion and availability of inorganic compounds to compensate the shifted C/N ratio under acidification in their food.

In conclusion, our results indicate that even after only three weeks of acidified conditions, bacterial communities associated to ungrazed seaweed and to an isopod grazer show specific, differential shifts in associated bacterial community. These have potential consequences for seaweed health (as shown in corals) and isopod food digestion. The observed changes in the gut microbiome of the grazer seem to reflect changes in the seaweed chemistry rather than its microbial composition.

Continue reading ‘Acidification increases abundances of Vibrionales and Planctomycetia associated to a seaweed-grazer system: potential consequences for disease and prey digestion efficiency’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book