Posts Tagged 'protists'

Warming, but not acidification, restructures epibacterial communities of the Baltic macroalga Fucus vesiculosus with seasonal variability

Due to ocean acidification and global warming, surface seawater of the western Baltic Sea is expected to reach an average of ∼1100 μatm pCO2 and an increase of ∼5°C by the year 2100. In four consecutive experiments (spanning 10–11 weeks each) in all seasons within 1 year, the abiotic factors temperature (+5°C above in situ) and pCO2 (adjusted to ∼1100 μatm) were tested for their single and combined effects on epibacterial communities of the brown macroalga Fucus vesiculosus and on bacteria present in the surrounding seawater. The experiments were set up in three biological replicates using the Kiel Outdoor Benthocosm facility (Kiel, Germany). Phylogenetic analyses of the respective microbiota were performed by bacterial 16S (V1-V2) rDNA Illumina MiSeq amplicon sequencing after 0, 4, 8, and 10/11 weeks per season. The results demonstrate (I) that the bacterial community composition varied in time and (II) that relationships between operational taxonomic units (OTUs) within an OTU association network were mainly governed by the habitat. (III) Neither single pCO2 nor pCO2:Temperature interaction effects were statistically significant. However, significant impact of ocean warming was detected varying among seasons. (IV) An indicator OTU (iOTU) analysis identified several iOTUs that were strongly influenced by temperature in spring, summer, and winter. In the warming treatments of these three seasons, we observed decreasing numbers of bacteria that are commonly associated with a healthy marine microbial community and—particularly during spring and summer—an increase in potentially pathogenic and bacteria related to intensified microfouling. This might lead to severe consequences for the F. vesiculosus holobiont finally affecting the marine ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Warming, but not acidification, restructures epibacterial communities of the Baltic macroalga Fucus vesiculosus with seasonal variability’

Geochemical reconstructions of Southern Ocean pH and temperature over the last glacial cycle

The Southern Ocean is widely thought to play an important role in atmospheric CO₂ change over glacial-interglacial cycles. It has been suggested that as the region that ventilates the majority of the world’s carbon-rich deep waters today, reduced exchange between deep waters and the atmosphere in the Southern Ocean acted to draw down CO₂ over glacial timescales. However, direct evidence of the Southern Ocean’s role in glacial CO₂ drawdown has been lacking thus far. Here I apply the boron-isotope pH-proxy to foraminifera from the Antarctic Zone sediment core PS1506 over the last glacial cycle. The low boron concentrations in these polar foraminifera makes these samples particularly sensitive to boron blank and so a close examination of the sources of blank, and an assessment of the precision of blank measurements, has been made. The ratios of trace elements to calcium in foraminiferal shells are widely applied as proxies for palaeoenvironmental parameters such as temperature. As Southern Ocean carbonate sediments are particularly prone to dissolution, which can affect trace element concentrations, an assessment of dissolution has been made. Firstly, dissolution experiments were conducted to constrain the impact of dissolution in a controlled setting, and secondly, shell mass and trace elements were evaluated for the downcore record. Imaging reveals similar etching textures in both experimentally dissolved samples and deglacial intervals, when shell mass is also low and several trace elements exhibit an excursion to lower values. Boron isotope data for PS1506 show that during the penultimate interglacial, surface water pH was low. At the onset of atmospheric CO₂ drawdown, pH increased, indicating low CO₂ surface waters. This is consistent with the signature predicted for a more stratified Southern Ocean, and is evidence that stratification in the Antarctic Zone acted to contribute to CO₂ drawdown early in the transition to a glacial state.

Continue reading ‘Geochemical reconstructions of Southern Ocean pH and temperature over the last glacial cycle’

Late Holocene climate variability and coastal change of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

The following dissertation contains three studies that use sediment cores to reconstruct past changes in the climate and environment of a tropical lagoon system. These studies provide insight into past droughts and coastal change during geologically recent climate variability and sea-level rise by investigating relationships between geochemical and biological parameters sensitive to different processes occurring on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

Chapter one is a foraminiferal fossil record reconstruction of the Celestun Lagoon environment, assessing ecologic response to a change in lagoon salinity and vegetation over the Late Holocene (5,300 years to present). The record and modern environment suggests foraminiferal community composition changes predictably with salinity, but lagoon salinity decreased primarily from restriction of seawater input to the lagoon, and hence reduced mixing between groundwater and seawater, rather than climate-induced increase of groundwater discharge, though climate is a secondary control. The cause of reduced mixing appears to be accumulation of barrier islands and sand spits that progressively isolated the northern lagoon, reducing mixing between groundwater discharge and seawater and shifting the environment from an open marine coast to estuarine lagoon. The transition was accompanied by expansion of the mangrove forest fringing the coastline. Superimposed on this trend, excursions of foraminifera taxa signify higher salinity coinciding with regionally dry periods and indicate that climate is a second-order control on lagoon mean salinity.

Chapter two is a more detailed paleosalinity reconstruction where relations between modern lagoon salinity and both trace metals and isotopes in foraminiferal tests are applied to samples from cores collected along a transect from the northern to southern lagoon. The benthic species Ammonia parkinsoniana is used due to its abundance throughout the lagoon, and paleosalinity tracers recorded in A. parkinsoniana calcite tests are the elemental ratios Sr/Ca, and Ba/Ca and isotopes δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr. Ba/Ca ratios exhibit the highest correlation with salinity while δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr indicate two types of groundwater discharge to the lagoon—a fresh and a brackish source. A mixing model constructed from δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr show that long-term decrease in salinity was due to increased proportions of the brackish groundwater endmember—consistent with the Chapter 1—and decreases in the freshwater endmember coincide with major dry periods in the Yucatan recorded in other paleoclimate archives of the region. Furthermore, sedimentation rates increase briefly at 3,400 and 2,000 years ago, time periods characterized by large-scale reorganization of atmospheric and oceanic currents in the North Atlantic with atmospheric teleconnections to tropical climate. These increases in accumulation rate are interpreted as periods of rapid barrier island accumulation as trade winds and the Loop Current weaken in the Gulf of Mexico and deposit sediments during longshore drift. Chapter two suggests that atmospheric patterns resulting in drought in the Yucatan Peninsula also result in rapid sedimentation and apparent decrease in salinity in coastal lagoons, thus demonstrating the value of a multi-proxy approach in reconstructing paleoenvironmental history in dynamic coastal environments.

Chapter three contributes data and a new hypothesis to the growing body of literature on the boron isotope system. The boron isotope ratio 11B/10B records pH of ambient water in the carbonate shells, proving to be a powerful tool in reconstructing past ocean acidification and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. However, δ11B has not previously been used as a proxy for low-pH spring water discharge. In Celestun Lagoon, boron measurements in A. parkinsoniana are characterized by high variability both in surface sediments along the lagoon and in downcore samples and exhibit weak but significant relationships with the paleosalinity proxies 87Sr/86Sr and Ba/Ca and with the vegetation proxy δ13C. Lower pH caused by respiration of organic matter, recorded in δ13C of calcite, appears to contribute to δ11B variability, yet mean δ11B values of calcite reflect calculated δ11B values of borate based on present understanding of boron systematics, thus indicating that spring discharge exerts a first-order control on lagoon pH and δ11B recorded in foraminifera. This finding is of particular interest to the deep-time paleocommunity because prior to the evolution of foraminifera, and because deep sea sediments older than 180 million years are rare, many calcareous fossils available for δ11B analysis thrived in shallow marine habitats. As efforts continue to find deep-time analogs to modern ocean acidification, low-pH groundwater discharge in coastal zones may complicate interpretations of δ11B results but may be addressed by a rigorous multi-proxy approach.

This dissertation provides a record of coastal and climate change during recent periods of climate variability and sea-level rise over the last 5,000 years to provide context for current climate change in the tropics and an understanding of drivers of variability in the past and the future at low latitude sites.

Continue reading ‘Late Holocene climate variability and coastal change of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico’

Amelioration of ocean acidification and warming effects through physiological buffering of a macroalgae

Concurrent anthropogenic global climate change and ocean acidification are expected to have a negative impact on calcifying marine organisms. While knowledge of biological responses of organisms to oceanic stress has emerged from single‐species experiments, these do not capture ecologically relevant scenarios where the potential for multi‐organism physiological interactions is assessed. Marine algae provide an interesting case study, as their photosynthetic activity elevates pH in the surrounding microenvironment, potentially buffering more acidic conditions for associated epiphytes. We present findings that indicate increased tolerance of an important epiphytic foraminifera, Marginopora vertebralis , to the effects of increased temperature (±3°C) and p CO2 (~1,000 µatm) when associated with its common algal host, Laurencia intricata . Specimens of M. vertebralis were incubated for 15 days in flow‐through aquaria simulating current and end‐of‐century temperature and pH conditions. Physiological measures of growth (change in wet weight), calcification (measured change in total alkalinity in closed bottles), photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm ), total chlorophyll, photosynthesis (oxygen flux), and respiration were determined. When incubated in isolation, M. vertebralis exhibited reduced growth in end‐of‐century projections of ocean acidification conditions, while calcification rates were lowest in the high‐temperature, low‐pH treatment. Interestingly, association with L. intricata ameliorated these stress effects with the growth and calcification rates of M. vertebralis being similar to those observed in ambient conditions. Total chlorophyll levels in M. vertebralis decreased when in association with L. intricata , while maximum photochemical efficiency increased in ambient conditions. Net production estimates remained similar between M. vertebralis in isolation and in association with L. intricata , although both production and respiration rates of M. vertebralis were significantly higher when associated with L. intricata . These results indicate that the association with L. intricata increases the resilience of M. vertebralis to climate change stress, providing one of the first examples of physiological buffering by a marine alga that can ameliorate the negative effects of changing ocean conditions.

Continue reading ‘Amelioration of ocean acidification and warming effects through physiological buffering of a macroalgae’

Seawater pH reconstruction using boron isotopes in multiple planktonic foraminifera species with different depth habitats and their potential to constrain pH and pCO2 gradients (update)

Boron isotope systematics of planktonic foraminifera from core-top sediments and culture experiments have been studied to investigate the sensitivity of δ11B of calcite tests to seawater pH. However, our knowledge of the relationship between δ11B and pH remains incomplete for many taxa. Thus, to expand the potential scope of application of this proxy, we report δ11B data for seven different species of planktonic foraminifera from sediment core tops. We utilize a method for the measurement of small samples of foraminifera and calculate the δ11B-calcite sensitivity to pH for Globigerinoides ruber, Trilobus sacculifer (sacc or without sacc), Orbulina universa, Pulleniatina obliquiloculata, Neogloboquadrina dutertrei, Globorotalia menardii, and Globorotalia tumida, including for unstudied core tops and species. These taxa have diverse ecological preferences and are from sites that span a range of oceanographic regimes, including some that are in regions of air–sea equilibrium and others that are out of equilibrium with the atmosphere. The sensitivity of δ11Bcarbonate to δ11Bborate (e.g., Δδ11Bcarbonate∕Δδ11Bborate) in core tops is consistent with previous studies for T. sacculifer and G. ruber and close to unity for N. dutertrei, O. universa, and combined deep-dwelling species. Deep-dwelling species closely follow the core-top calibration for O. universa, which is attributed to respiration-driven microenvironments likely caused by light limitation and/or symbiont–host interactions. Our data support the premise that utilizing boron isotope measurements of multiple species within a sediment core can be utilized to constrain vertical profiles of pH and pCO2 at sites spanning different oceanic regimes, thereby constraining changes in vertical pH gradients and yielding insights into the past behavior of the oceanic carbon pumps.

Continue reading ‘Seawater pH reconstruction using boron isotopes in multiple planktonic foraminifera species with different depth habitats and their potential to constrain pH and pCO2 gradients (update)’

Calcification of planktonic foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata controlled by seawater temperature rather than ocean acidification


• A method is provided to correct the dissolution effect on foraminiferal SNW

• Core-top ISNWP. obli is positively correlated with calcification temperature

• ISNWP. obli linked to seawater temperature, but not atmospheric pCO2, since 250 ka

• Temperature is the dominant factor controlling P. obliquiloculata calcification


Planktonic foraminifera represent a major component of global marine carbonate production, and understanding environmental influences on their calcification is critical to predicting marine carbon cycle responses to modern climate change. The present study investigated the effects of different environmental influences on calcification of the planktonic foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata. By correcting the dissolution effect on the size-normalized weight (SNW) of P. obliquiloculata from deep-sea sediments, we provide a means of estimating initial size-normalized weight (ISNW) from which to assess secular changes in the degree of calcification of P. obliquiloculata. Core-top ISNW in P. obliquiloculata from the global tropical oceans is significantly positively correlated with calcification temperature, suggesting that temperature is the dominant control on calcification. Using Neogloboquadrina dutertrei SNW as an independent deep-water Δ[CO32−] proxy, we present an ISNW record for P. obliquiloculata from the western tropical Pacific since 250 ka. The response of ISNW to past seawater temperature variations further confirms the dominant influence of temperature on P. obliquiloculata calcification. A potential increase in calcification as a result of ocean warming may have reduced oceanic uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere and increased atmospheric pCO2, generating a positive feedback for global warming.

Continue reading ‘Calcification of planktonic foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata controlled by seawater temperature rather than ocean acidification’

Energetic context determines species and community responses to ocean acidification

Physiological responses to ocean acidification are thought to be related to energetic trade‐offs. Although a number of studies have proposed that negative responses to low pH could be minimized in situations where food resources are more readily available, evidence for such effects on individuals remain mixed, and the consequences of such effects at the community level remain untested. We explored the potential for food availability and diet quality to modify the effects of acidification on developing marine fouling communities in field‐deployed mesocosms by supplementing natural food supply with one of two species of phytoplankton, differing in concentration of fatty acids. After twelve weeks, no species demonstrated the interactive effects generally predicted in the literature, where a positive overall effect of diet mitigated the negative overall effects of acidification. Rather, for some species, additional food supply appeared to bring out or exacerbate the negative effects of low pH. Community richness and structure were only altered by acidification, while space occupation and evenness reflected patterns of the most dominant species. Importantly, we find that acidification stress can increase the relative abundance of invasive species, even under resource conditions that otherwise prevented invasive species establishment. Overall, the proposed hypothesis regarding the ability for food addition to mitigate the negative effects of acidification is thus far not widely supported at species or community levels. It is clear that acidification is a strong driving force in these communities but understanding underlying energetic and competitive context is essential to developing mechanistic predictions for climate change responses.

Continue reading ‘Energetic context determines species and community responses to ocean acidification’

A sediment trap evaluation of B/Ca as a carbonate system proxy in asymbiotic and nondinoflagellate hosting planktonic foraminifera

The ratio of boron to calcium (B/Ca) in a subset of foraminifera has been shown to covary with seawater carbonate chemistry, making this geochemical signature a promising proxy for carbon cycle science. Some studies suggest complications with the B/Ca proxy in photosymbiont‐bearing planktonic foraminifera, while relatively few studies have investigated B/Ca in species that lack large dinoflagellate symbionts. For the first time, we use a sediment trap time series to evaluate B/Ca of subtropical and subpolar planktonic foraminifera species that are asymbiotic (Globigerina bulloides and Neogloboquadrina incompta) and a species that hosts small intrashell photosymbionts (Neogloboquadrina dutertrei). We find that B/Ca measurements across size fractions indicate overall little to no size‐dependent uptake of boron that has previously been reported in some symbiont‐bearing foraminifera. Neogloboquadrina incompta and N. dutertrei B/Ca are strongly correlated with calcite saturation, pH, and carbonate ion concentration, which is in good agreement with the limited number of published core top results. While G. bulloides B/Ca trends with seasonal fluctuations in carbonate chemistry, during discrete periods considerable B/Ca offsets occur when a cryptic G. bulloides species is known to be seasonally present within the region. We confirm presence and significant B/Ca offset between cryptic species by individual LA‐ICP‐MS analyses. This finding calls into question the use of traditional morphological classification to lump what might be genetically distinct species for geochemical analyses. Our overall results highlight the utility of G. bulloides, N. incompta, and N. dutertrei B/Ca while bringing to light new considerations regarding divergent geochemistry of cryptic species.

Continue reading ‘A sediment trap evaluation of B/Ca as a carbonate system proxy in asymbiotic and nondinoflagellate hosting planktonic foraminifera’

Patterns in microbiome composition differ with ocean acidification in anatomic compartments of the Mediterranean coral Astroides calycularis living at CO2 vents


• Coral microbiomes contribute to host acclimatization to environmental change.

• Natural CO2 gradients are a model of global change-induced ocean acidification.

• Non-symbiotic coral Astroides calycularis survives in a natural acidified site.

• Calycularis mucus microbiome is the most affected by low pH conditions.

• Low pH conditions induce changes in microbiome supporting nitrogen cycling.


Coral microbiomes, the complex microbial communities associated with the different anatomic compartments of the coral, provide important functions for the host’s survival, such as nutrient cycling at the host’s surface, prevention of pathogens colonization, and promotion of nutrient uptake. Microbiomes are generally referred to as plastic entities, able to adapt their composition and functionality in response to environmental change, with a possible impact on coral acclimatization to phenomena related to climate change, such as ocean acidification. Ocean sites characterized by natural gradients of pCO2 provide models for investigating the ability of marine organisms to acclimatize to decreasing seawater pH. Here we compared the microbiome of the temperate, shallow water, non-symbiotic solitary coral Astroides calycularis that naturally lives at a volcanic CO2 vent in Ischia Island (Naples, Italy), with that of corals living in non-acidified sites at the same island. Bacterial DNA associated with the different anatomic compartments (mucus, tissue and skeleton) of A. calycularis was differentially extracted and a total of 68 samples were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. In terms of phylogenetic composition, the microbiomes associated with the different coral anatomic compartments were different from each other and from the microbial communities of the surrounding seawater. Of all the anatomic compartments, the mucus-associated microbiome differed the most between the control and acidified sites. The differences detected in the microbial communities associated to the three anatomic compartments included a general increase in subdominant bacterial groups, some of which are known to be involved in different stages of the nitrogen cycle, such as potential nitrogen fixing bacteria and bacteria able to degrade organic nitrogen. Our data therefore suggests a potential increase of nitrogen fixation and recycling in A. calycularis living close to the CO2 vent system.

Continue reading ‘Patterns in microbiome composition differ with ocean acidification in anatomic compartments of the Mediterranean coral Astroides calycularis living at CO2 vents’

Corals exhibit distinct patterns of microbial reorganisation to thrive in an extreme inshore environment

Climate change threatens the survival of scleractinian coral from exposure to concurrent ocean warming, acidification and deoxygenation; how corals can potentially adapt to this trio of stressors is currently unknown. This study investigates three coral species (Acropora muricata, Acropora pulchra and Porites lutea) dominant in an extreme mangrove lagoon (Bouraké, New Caledonia) where abiotic conditions exceed those predicted for many reef sites over the next 100 years under climate change and compared them to conspecifics from an environmentally more benign reef habitat. We studied holobiont physiology as well as plasticity in coral-associated microorganisms (Symbiodiniaceae and bacteria) through ITS2 and 16S rRNA sequencing, respectively. We hypothesised that differences in coral-associated microorganisms (Symbiodiniaceae and bacteria) between the lagoonal and adjacent reef habitats may support coral host productivity and ultimately the ability of corals to live in extreme environments. In the lagoon, all coral species exhibited a metabolic adjustment of reduced photosynthesis-to-respiration ratios (P/R), but this was accompanied by highly divergent coral host-specific microbial associations. This was substantiated by the absence of shared ITS2-type profiles (proxies for Symbiodiniaceae genotypes). We observed that ITS2 profiles originating from Durusdinium taxa made up < 3% and a novel Symbiodinium ITS2 profile A1-A1v associated with A. pulchra. Bacterial community profiles were also highly divergent in corals from the lagoonal environment, whereas corals from the reef site were consistently dominated by Hahellaceae, Endozoicomonas. As such, differences in host–microorganism associations aligned with different physiologies and habitats. Our results argue that a multitude of host–microorganism associations are required to fulfill the changing nutritional demands of corals persisting into environments that parallel climate change scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Corals exhibit distinct patterns of microbial reorganisation to thrive in an extreme inshore environment’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book