Posts Tagged 'protists'

Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and its dissolution in seawater have reduced ocean pH and carbonate ion concentration with potential implications to calcifying organisms. To assess the response of Caribbean benthic foraminifera to low carbonate saturation conditions, we analyzed benthic foraminifera abundance and relative distribution in proximity to low carbonate saturation submarine springs and at adjacent control sites. Our results show that the total abundance of benthic foraminifera is significantly lower at the low pH low calcite saturation submarine springs than at control sites, despite higher concentrations of inorganic carbon at the spring sites. The relative abundance of symbiont-bearing foraminifera and agglutinated foraminifera was higher at the low pH low calcite saturation submarine springs compared to control sites. These differences indicate that non-symbiont bearing heterotrophic calcareous foraminifera are more sensitive to the effects of ocean acidification than non-calcifying and symbiont bearing foraminifera, suggesting that future ocean acidification may impact natural benthic foraminifera populations.

Continue reading ‘Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages’

Physiological responses of corals to ocean acidification and copper exposure

Highlights

  • Differences in copper accumulation and sensitivity were observed between coral species and between coral and zooxanthellae
  • Increased CO2 did not influence copper accumulation
  • Synergistic effects from combined CO2 and copper exposure were observed in corals
  • Altered enzyme activity was observed in both coral exposed to copper or CO2
  • A. cervicornis was more affected by copper and P. damicornis was more affected by increased CO2

Abstract

Acidification and land-based sources of pollution have been linked to widespread declines of coral cover in coastal reef ecosystems. In this study, two coral species, Acropora cervicornis and Pocillopora damicornis were exposed to increased copper at two CO2 levels for 96 h. Copper accumulation and anti-oxidant enzyme activities were measured. Copper accumulation only increased in A. cervicornis zooxanthellae and corresponded with photosynthetic toxicity. Enzyme activities in both coral species were affected; however, A. cervicornis was more sensitive than P. damicornis, and zooxanthellae were more affected than animal fractions of holobionts. Generally, activities of all anti-oxidant enzymes increased, with copper exposure in corals; whereas, activities of glutathione reductase and to some degree glutathione peroxidase were observed due to increasing CO2 exposure alone. Exposure to copper in combination with higher CO2 resulted in a synergistic response in some cases. These results provide insight into mechanisms of copper and CO2 impacts in corals.

Continue reading ‘Physiological responses of corals to ocean acidification and copper exposure’

Host and symbionts in Pocillopora damicornis larvae display different transcriptomic responses to ocean acidification and warming

As global ocean change progresses, reef-building corals and their early life history stages will rely on physiological plasticity to tolerate new environmental conditions. Larvae from brooding coral species contain algal symbionts upon release, which assist with the energy requirements of dispersal and metamorphosis. Global ocean change threatens the success of larval dispersal and settlement by challenging the performance of the larvae and of the symbiosis. In this study, larvae of the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis were exposed to elevated pCO2 and temperature to examine the performance of the coral and its symbionts in situ and better understand the mechanisms of physiological plasticity and stress tolerance in response to multiple stressors. We generated a de novo holobiont transcriptome containing coral host and algal symbiont transcripts and bioinformatically filtered the assembly into host and symbiont components for downstream analyses. Seventeen coral genes were differentially expressed in response to the combined effects of pCO2 and temperature. In the symbiont, 89 genes were differentially expressed in response to pCO2. Our results indicate that many of the whole-organism (holobiont) responses previously observed for P. damicornis larvae in scenarios of ocean acidification and warming may reflect the physiological capacity of larvae to cope with the environmental changes without expressing additional protective mechanisms. At the holobiont level, the results suggest that the responses of symbionts to future ocean conditions could play a large role in shaping success of coral larval stages.

Continue reading ‘Host and symbionts in Pocillopora damicornis larvae display different transcriptomic responses to ocean acidification and warming’

Symbiodinium functional diversity in the coral Siderastrea siderea is influenced by thermal stress and reef environment, but not ocean acidification

Coral bleaching events are increasing in frequency, demanding examination of the physiological and molecular responses of scleractinian corals and their algal symbionts (Symbiodinium sp.) to stressors associated with bleaching. Here, we quantify the effects of long-term (95-day) thermal and CO2-acidification stress on photochemical efficiency of in hospite Symbiodinium within the coral Siderastrea siderea, along with corresponding coral color intensity, for corals from two reef zones (forereef, nearshore) on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. We then explore the molecular responses of in hospite Symbiodinium to these stressors via genome-wide gene expression profiling. Elevated temperatures reduced symbiont photochemical efficiencies and were highly correlated with coral color loss. However, photochemical efficiencies of forereef symbionts were more negatively affected by thermal stress than nearshore symbionts, suggesting greater thermal tolerance and/or reduced photodamage in nearshore corals. At control temperatures, CO2-acidification had little effect on symbiont physiology, although forereef symbionts exhibited constitutively higher photochemical efficiencies than nearshore symbionts. Gene expression profiling revealed that S. siderea were dominated by Symbiodinium goreaui (C1), except under thermal stress, which caused shifts to thermotolerant Symbiodinium trenchii (D1a). Comparative transcriptomics of conserved genes across the host and symbiont revealed few differentially expressed S. goreaui genes when compared to S. siderea, highlighting the host’s role in the coral’s response to environmental stress. Although S. goreaui transcriptomes did not vary in response to acidification stress, their gene expression was strongly dependent on reef zone, with forereef S. goreaui exhibiting enrichment of genes associated with photosynthesis. This finding, coupled with constitutively higher forereef S. goreaui photochemical efficiencies, suggests that functional differences in genes associated with primary production exist between reef zones.

Continue reading ‘Symbiodinium functional diversity in the coral Siderastrea siderea is influenced by thermal stress and reef environment, but not ocean acidification’

A comparative metabolomics approach detects stress-specific responses during coral bleaching in soft corals

Chronic exposure to ocean acidification and elevated sea-surface temperatures pose significant stress to marine ecosystems. This in turn necessitates costly acclimation responses in corals in both the symbiont and host, with a re-organization of cell metabolism and structure. A large-scale untargeted metabolomics approach comprising gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS) was applied to profile the metabolite composition of the soft coral Sarcophyton ehrenbergi and its dinoflagellate symbiont. Metabolite profiling compared ambient conditions with response to simulated climate change stressors and with the sister species, S. glaucum. Among ca. 300 monitored metabolites, 13 metabolites were modulated. Incubation experiments providing four selected upregulated metabolites (alanine, GABA, nicotinic acid and proline) in the culturing water failed to subside the bleaching response at temperature-induced stress, despite their known ability to mitigate heat stress in plants or animals. Thus the results hint to metabolite accumulation (marker) during heat stress. This study provides the first detailed map of metabolic pathways transition in corals in response to different environmental stresses, accounting for the superior thermal tolerance of S ehrenbergi versus S. glaucum which can ultimately help maintain a viable symbiosis and mitigate against coral bleaching.

Continue reading ‘A comparative metabolomics approach detects stress-specific responses during coral bleaching in soft corals’

Boron isotopes in foraminifera: systematics, biomineralisation, and CO2 reconstruction

The boron isotope composition of foraminifera provides a powerful tracer for CO2 change over geological time. This proxy is based on the equilibrium of boron and its isotopes in seawater, which is a function of pH. However while the chemical principles underlying this proxy are well understood, its reliability has previously been questioned, due to the difficulty of boron isotope (δ11B) analysis on foraminferal samples and questions regarding calibrations between δ11B and pH. This chapter reviews the current state of the δ11B-pH proxy in foraminfera, including the pioneering studies that established this proxy’s potential, and the recent work that has improved understanding of boron isotope systematics in foraminifera and applied this tracer to the geological record. The theoretical background of the δ11B-pH proxy is introduced, including an accurate formulation of the boron isotope mass balance equations. Sample preparation and analysis procedures are then reviewed, with discussion of sample cleaning, the potential influence of diagenesis, and the strengths and weaknesses of boron purification by column chromatography versus microsublimation, and analysis by NTIMS versus MC-ICPMS. The systematics of boron isotopes in foraminifera are discussed in detail, including results from benthic and planktic taxa, and models of boron incorporation, fractionation, and biomineralisation. Benthic taxa from the deep ocean have δ11B within error of borate ion at seawater pH. This is most easily explained by simple incorporation of borate ion at the pH of seawater. Planktic foraminifera have δ11B close to borate ion, but with minor offsets. These may be driven by physiological influences on the foraminiferal microenvironment; a novel explanation is also suggested for the reduced δ11B-pH sensitivities observed in culture, based on variable calcification rates. Biomineralisation influences on boron isotopes are then explored, addressing the apparently contradictory observations that foraminifera manipulate pH during chamber formation yet their δ11B appears to record the pH of ambient seawater. Potential solutions include the influences of magnesium-removal and carbon concentration, and the possibility that pH elevation is most pronounced during initial chamber formation under favourable environmental conditions. The steps required to reconstruct pH and pCO2 from δ11B are then reviewed, including the influence of seawater chemistry on boron equilibrium, the evolution of seawater δ11B, and the influence of second carbonate system parameters on δ11B-based reconstructions of pCO2. Applications of foraminiferal δ11B to the geological record are highlighted, including studies that trace CO2 storage and release during recent ice ages, and reconstructions of pCO2 over the Cenozoic. Relevant computer codes and data associated with this article are made available online.

Continue reading ‘Boron isotopes in foraminifera: systematics, biomineralisation, and CO2 reconstruction’

Decalcification and survival of benthic foraminifera under the combined impacts of varying pH and salinity

Highlights

  • Coastal ocean acidification did not enhance apparent test dissolution or affect survival in the short term of the benthic foraminifera species Ammonia sp. and Elphidium crispum.
  • Ωcalc <1 caused by low salinity decreases resistance to dissolution of the foraminifera.
  • The response of foraminifera to the combined impact of low pH and desalination was species-specific.
  • Living, decalcified juvenile specimens of Ammonia sp. were observed after one month at salinity 5.

Abstract

Coastal areas display natural large environmental variability such as frequent changes in salinity, pH, and carbonate chemistry. Anthropogenic impacts – especially ocean acidification – increase this variability, which may affect the living conditions of coastal species, particularly, calcifiers. We performed culture experiments on living benthic foraminifera to study the combined effects of lowered pH and salinity on the calcification abilities and survival of the coastal, calcitic species Ammonia sp. and Elphidium crispum. We found that in open ocean conditions (salinity ∼35) and lower pH than usual values for these species, the specimens displayed resistance to shell (test) dissolution for a longer time than in brackish conditions (salinity ∼5 to 20). However, the response was species specific as Ammonia sp. specimens survived longer than E. crispum specimens when placed in the same conditions of salinity and pH. Living, decalcified juveniles of Ammonia sp. were observed and we show that desalination is one cause for the decalcification. Finally, we highlight the ability of foraminifera to survive under Ωcalc < 1, and that high salinity and [Ca2+] as building blocks are crucial for the foraminiferal calcification process.

Continue reading ‘Decalcification and survival of benthic foraminifera under the combined impacts of varying pH and salinity’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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