Posts Tagged 'protists'

Response of planktic foraminiferal shells to ocean acidification and global warming assessed using micro-x-ray computed tomography

Ocean acidification is now progressing, primarily due to the fact that the oceans have absorbed about 50% of the anthropogenic CO2 emitted since the industrial revolution. Many marine calcifying organisms, such as foraminifers and coccoliths, are known to build their shells using carbonate ions present in the seawaters surrounding them. Carbonate saturation state has a crucial influence on foraminiferal calcification, and foraminiferal shell production is known to be sensitive to increase in ocean pCO2. Moreover, ocean warming is also progressing along with acidification. Therefore, both environmental changes could affect foraminiferal shell formation. However, the relationship between foraminiferal shell parameters (i.e., size, weight, volume, and density) and ocean pCO2 or sea surface temperature (SST), or both, remains unclear. In this study, we used fossil planktic foraminifer Globigerinoides ruber (white) in a late Quaternary sediment core (MD98-2196) from the East China Sea to investigate a relationship between the shell parameters and oceanographic properties estimated based on the proxies from the same core. The foraminiferal shells were scanned using high-resolution micro-X-ray computed tomography (MXCT) to determine shell volume and density. The results showed that the size-normalized weight and the size-normalized volume of the shell had a negative correlation with the SST and atmospheric pCO2. The negative correlation between weight/volume and atmospheric pCO2 agrees with the previous laboratory experiments and geological record during the Pliocene. However, the correlation between weight/volume and SST should be interpreted with caution because it might be an artifact due to the correlation between SST and atmospheric pCO2. On the other hand, shell density is only weakly or insignificantly correlated with SST and pCO2, suggesting that these environmental parameters do not exert any impact on shell density. Thus, future ocean acidification will negatively affect the carbonate productivity of planktic foraminifers, even if it will not affect shell density. The temperature effect on the shell formation of the planktic foraminifers might be much less than ocean acidification considering controversial results of the temperature sensitivity in previous studies.

Continue reading ‘Response of planktic foraminiferal shells to ocean acidification and global warming assessed using micro-x-ray computed tomography’

Physicochemical control of Caribbean coral calcification linked to host and symbiont responses to varying pCO2 and temperature

It is thought that the active physiological regulation of the chemistry of a parent fluid is an important process in the biomineralization of scleractinian corals. Biological regulation of calcification fluid pH (pHCF) and other carbonate chemistry parameters ([CO32−]CF, DICCF, and ΩCF) may be challenged by CO2 driven acidification and temperature. Here, we examine the combined influence of changing temperature and CO2 on calcifying fluid regulation in four common Caribbean coral species—Porites astreoides, Pseudodiploria strigosa, Undaria tenuifolia, and Siderastrea siderea. We utilize skeletal boron geochemistry (B/Ca and δ11B) to probe the pHCF, [CO32−]CF, and DICCF regulation in these corals, and δ13C to track changes in the sources of carbon for calcification. Temperature was found to not influence pHCF regulation across all pCO2 treatments in these corals, in contrast to recent studies on Indo-Pacific pocilloporid corals. We find that [DIC]CF is significantly lower at higher temperatures in all the corals, and that the higher temperature was associated with depletion of host energy reserves, suggesting [DIC]CF reductions may result from reduced input of respired CO2 to the DIC pool for calcification. In addition, δ13C data suggest that under high temperature and CO2 conditions, algal symbiont photosynthesis continues to influence the calcification pool and is associated with low [DIC]CF in P. strigosa and P. astreoides. In P. astreoides this effect is also associated with an increase in chlorophyll a concentration in coral tissues at higher temperatures. These observations collectively support the assertion that physicochemical control over coral calcifying fluid chemistry is coupled to host and symbiont physiological responses to environmental change, and reveals interspecific differences in the extent and nature of this coupling.

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Shallow water records of the PETM: novel insights From NE India (eastern Tethys)


The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is associated with major extinctions in the deep ocean, and significant paleogeographic and ecological changes in surface ocean and terrestrial environments. However, the impact of the associated environmental change on shelf biota is less well understood. Here, we present a new PETM record of a low paleolatitude shallow-marine carbonate platform from Meghalaya, NE India (eastern Tethys). The biotic assemblage was distinctly different to other Tethyan PETM records dominated by larger benthic foraminifera and calcareous algae both in the Paleocene and Eocene. A change in taxa and forms indicating deeper waters with a concurrent decrease in abundance of shallow water algae suggests a sea-level rise during the onset of the PETM. The record is lacking the ecological change from corals to larger foraminiferal assemblages and the Lockhartia dominance, characteristic of several other sections in the Tethys. Comparison with a global circulation model (GCM) indicates high regional temperatures in the Thanetian which may have excluded corals from the region. Furthermore, the regional circulation pattern is isolating the site from the wider Paratethys. Our study highlights the need for a diverse global perspective on shallow-marine response to the PETM and the strength of coupling data to global climate models for interpretation.

Key Points

  • Shallow-marine Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) successions are rare; here, we presented from the low paleolatitude NE India (eastern Tethys)
  • The absence of coral reefs in NE India, in contrast to other Tethyan records, was driven by very high temperatures
  • Linking biotic records of this section with climate modeling allow to interpret the biotic differences across the Tethyan region
Continue reading ‘Shallow water records of the PETM: novel insights From NE India (eastern Tethys)’

The Foraminiferal response to climate stressors project: tracking the community response of planktonic Foraminifera to historical climate change

Planktonic Foraminifera are ubiquitous marine protozoa inhabiting the upper ocean. During life, they secrete calcareous shells, which accumulate in marine sediments, providing a geological record of past spatial and temporal changes in their community structure. As a result, they provide the opportunity to analyze both current and historical patterns of species distribution and community turnover in this plankton group on a global scale. The FORCIS project aims to unlock this potential by synthesizing a comprehensive global database of abundance and diversity observations of living planktonic Foraminifera in the upper ocean over more than 100 years starting from 1910. The database will allow for unravelling the impact of multiple global-change stressors acting on planktonic Foraminifera in historical times, using an approach that combines statistical analysis of temporal diversity changes in response to environmental changes with numerical modeling of species response based on their ecological traits.

Continue reading ‘The Foraminiferal response to climate stressors project: tracking the community response of planktonic Foraminifera to historical climate change’

Long-term exposure to an extreme environment induces species-specific responses in corals’ photosynthesis and respiration rates

Extreme reef environments have become useful natural laboratories to investigate physiological specificities of species chronically exposed to future-like climatic conditions. The lagoon of Bouraké in New Caledonia (21°56′56.16′′ S; 125°59′36.82′′ E) is one of the only reef environments studied where the three main climatic stressors predicted to most severely impact corals occur. In this lagoon, temperatures, seawater pHT and dissolved oxygen chronically fluctuate between extreme and close-to-normal values (17.5–33.85 °C, 7.23–7.92 pHT units and 1.87–7.24 mg O2 L−1, respectively). In March 2020, the endosymbiont functions (chl a, cell density and photosynthesis) and respiration rates were investigated in seven coral species from this lagoon and compared with those of corals from an adjacent reference site using hour-long incubations mimicking present-day and future conditions. Corals originating from Bouraké displayed significant differences in these variables compared to reference corals, but these differences were species-specific. Photosynthetic rates of Bouraké corals were all significantly lower than those of reference corals but were partially compensated by higher chlorophyll contents. Respiration rates of the Bouraké corals were either lower or comparable to those of reference corals. Conversely, photosynthesis and respiration rates of most studied species were similar regardless of the incubation conditions, which mimicked either present-day or future conditions. This study supports previous work indicating that no unique response can explain corals’ tolerance to sub-optimal conditions and that a variety of mechanisms will be at play for corals in a changing world.

Continue reading ‘Long-term exposure to an extreme environment induces species-specific responses in corals’ photosynthesis and respiration rates’

Calcification, dissolution and test properties of modern planktonic foraminifera from the central Atlantic Ocean

The mass of well-preserved calcite in planktonic foraminifera shells provides an indication of the calcification potential of the surface ocean. Here we report the shell weight of 8 different abundant planktonic foraminifera species from a set of core-to sediments along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The analyses showed that near the equator, foraminifera shells of equivalent size weigh on average 1/3 less than those from the middle latitudes. The carbonate preservation state of the samples was assessed by high resolution X-ray microcomputed tomographic analyses of Globigerinoides ruber and Globorotalia truncatulinoides specimens. The specimen preservation was deemed good and does not overall explain the observed shell mass variations. However, G. ruber shell weights might be to some extent compromised by residual fine debris internal contamination. Deep dwelling species possess heavier tests than their surface-dwelling counterparts, suggesting that the weight of the foraminifera shells changes as a function of the depth habitat. Ambient seawater carbonate chemistry of declining carbonate ion concentration with depth cannot account for this interspecies difference. The results suggest a depth regulating function for plankton calcification, which is not dictated by water column acidity.

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Increased ocean acidification by upwelling intensification in southern Tethyan margin during the PETM: implication for foraminiferal record

The upper Thanetian–lowermost Ypresian succession in Tunisia is part of an extensive high-productivity upwelling regime in the southern Tethyan margin. As in several modern coastal upwelling systems, the upwelling strengthening regionally accentuated sustained acidification conditions, which prevailed in the Roman Bridge area (Central Tunisia). The poor-carbonate sedimentation, associated with the bad preservation state of calcifiers, points to the expansion of carbonate undersaturation in the water column and deep-sea sediments. The upwelling of deep CO32− and dissolved oxygen-depleted water significantly put calcifiers under chemically stressed habitats. Foraminiferal dwarfism, decrease in abundance and diversity, and especially occurrence of abundant dissolved and fragmented shells could account for the severe carbonate-corrosive waters. The spoiled primary morphological characteristics of benthic foraminifera emphasize the alkalinity increase in the deep marine waters. The well-preserved organic matter in the Roman Bridge sediments suggested a relatively minor role of remineralization in CaCO3-unsaturated waters. The expansion of carbonate-depleted water in the Roman Bridge area was principally driven by upwelled deep depleted-carbonate waters. These findings highlight the challenge to predict the response of the marine ecosystem to rising ocean acidification in upwelling strengthening regions in the future.

Continue reading ‘Increased ocean acidification by upwelling intensification in southern Tethyan margin during the PETM: implication for foraminiferal record’

Stable adult growth but reduced asexual fecundity in Marginopora vertebralis, under global climate change scenarios

Large benthic foraminifera are an integral component of shallow-water tropical habitats and like many marine calcifiers are susceptible to ocean acidification (OA) and ocean warming (OW). In particular, the prolific Symbiodiniaceae-bearing and high-magnesium calcite Marginopora vertebralis has a low threshold compared to several diatom-bearing and low-magnesium calcite species. In this multi-year mesocosm experiment we tested three RPC 8.5 climate change scenarios (i) present day, (ii) the year 2050, and (iii) 2100. To enable a realistic epiphytic association these experiments were uniquely conducted using natural carbonate substrate, living calcifying alga, and seagrass. In contrast to previous studies, we detected no reduction in surface-area growth under future climate conditions compared with present day conditions. In terms of calcification, M. vertebralis’ epiphytic association to primary producers (i.e., calcifying algae and seagrasses) potentially ameliorates the effects of OA by buffering against declines in boundary layer pH during periods of photosynthesis (i.e., CO2 removal). Importantly for population maintenance, we observed a strong reduction in asexual fecundity under the 2100 scenario. We propose the additional energy needed to maintain growth might be one reason for drastically reduced asexual reproduction. The other possibility could be due to the +2°C temperature increase, which interfered with the environmental synchronization that triggered asexual multiple fission. We conclude that the low levels of reproduction will reduce populations in a high CO2 environment and reduce a valuable source of CaCO3 sediment production.

Continue reading ‘Stable adult growth but reduced asexual fecundity in Marginopora vertebralis, under global climate change scenarios’

Coral symbiosis carbon flow: a numerical model study spanning cellular to ecosystem levels

Corals rely on a symbiotic relationship with algae (zooxanthellae), which reside in the host tissue and play a critical role for host metabolism through photosynthesis, respiration, carbon translocation, and calcification. These processes affect coral reefs on different scales from cellular to organismal and ecosystem levels. A process-based dynamic model was developed and coupled with a one-dimensional (1-D) biogeochemical model to describe coral photosynthesis, respiration, and carbon translocation at the cellular level, calcification and ion transport in different coral polyp components (i.e., coelenteron, calcifying fluid) at the organismal level; and the exchange of material between corals and the ambient seawater at the ecosystem level. Major processes controlling the carbon budget in internal symbiosis were identified. For the symbiont, photosynthesis is the primary carbon source and translocation to the host is the major sink. For the host, most of the carbon translocated from the symbiont is lost through mucus leakage. In the host dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool, most of the carbon is obtained from the surrounding seawater through uptake; photosynthesis and calcification are the major sinks of DIC. Based on a series of scenario studies, the model produced increase of photosynthesis rate with decline of calcification rate under higher air pCO2 and associated carbonate chemistry variabilities in different polyp components. The model results support the hypothesis that elevated pCO2 stimulates photosynthesis, resulting in a reduced supply of DIC to calcification. Such coupled models allow the exploration of process-based mechanisms, complementing laboratory and field studies.

Continue reading ‘Coral symbiosis carbon flow: a numerical model study spanning cellular to ecosystem levels’

Effect of temperature and pH on the Millepora alcicornis and Mussismilia harttii corals in light of a spectral reflectance response

The increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) atmospheric levels contributes to the rise in temperature and ocean acidification; consequently, it directly impacts coral reefs. The increase in seawater temperature is the primary factor that causes the collapse of coral-algal symbiosis, which can be followed by coral death and, generally, ocean acidification impairs biogenic calcification and promotes dissolution of carbonate substrata. These harmful effects on corals associated with the continuous increase in CO2 atmospheric levels raise widespread concerns about the coral reef decline, intensifying the efforts to understand/monitor their effects on these organisms. The objective of this study was to evaluate the physiological effect of temperature increase, water acidification (i.e. decrease in pH), and their effects combined (temperature increase with water acidification), through the reflectance analyses and maximum photosynthetic capacity of zooxanthellae (Fv/Fm) in two coral species: Millepora alcicornis and Mussismilia harttii. Fragments of four large colonies of each specie were collected, fragmented, and submitted to four different treatments for 15 days: (i) control treatment (under identical temperature and pH conditions observed in the sampling seawater site), (ii) temperature treatment (with an increase temperature of around ≅2ºC); (iii) water acidification treatment (with a decrease of nearly 0.3 in pH); and (iv) a treatment of combined effects from water temperature rising and acidification. Spectral reflectance and Fv/Fm were measured from samples of these species in a marine mesocosm. Data of reflectance, first and second-order derivative, area under the curve, full width at half maximum (FWHM), depth values and the Fv/Fm were used to classify the coral species and treatments through the linear discriminant analysis (LDA). Coral samples were exposed to the increased temperature bleached, whilst decreased pH caused a slight reduction in reflectance albedo with minimal effects on Fv/Fm. The combined factors (treatment iv) triggered a bleaching response, presenting spectral reflectance and colouring patterns similar to those observed in bleached corals, especially for M. alcicornis. The two-way ANOVA indicated statistically meaningful spectral differences between treatments for the second-order derivatives at 634 nm and for Fv/Fm values. However, there was no statistically meaningful interaction effect due to the treatment type and coral species response for the second-order derivative at 670 nm and to the Fv/Fm values. LDA classified the corals’ species and the corals in different treatment, using their spectral responses and Fv/Fm results, with high accuracy (96.7% and 73.3%, respectively), reinforcing its application for coral physiology evaluation and species classification. The control and combined groups achieved the best classification scores, with only one misclassification.

Continue reading ‘Effect of temperature and pH on the Millepora alcicornis and Mussismilia harttii corals in light of a spectral reflectance response’

Potential resilience to ocean acidification of benthic foraminifers living in Posidonia oceanica meadows: the case of the shallow venting site of Panarea

This research shows the results regarding the response to acidic condition of the sediment and Posidonia foraminiferal assemblages collected around the Panarea Island. The Aeolian Archipelago represents a natural laboratory and a much-promising study site for multidisciplinary marine research (carbon capture and storage, geochemistry of hydrothermal fluids and ocean acidification vs. benthic and pelagic organisms). The variability and the complexity of the interaction of the ecological factors characterizing extreme environments such as shallow hydrothermal vents did not allow us to carry out a real pattern of biota responses in situ, differently from those observed under controlled laboratory conditions. However, the study provides new insights into foraminiferal response to increasing ocean acidification (OA) in terms of biodiversity, faunal density, specific composition of the assemblages and morphological variations of the shells. The study highlights how the foraminiferal response to different pH conditions can change depending on different environmental conditions and microhabitats (sediments, Posidonia leaves and rhizomes). Indeed, mineral sediments were more impacted by acidification, whereas Posidonia microhabitats, thanks to their buffer effect, can offer “refugia” and more mitigated acidic environment. At species level, rosalinids and agglutinated group represent the most abundant taxa showing the most specific resilience and capability to face acidic conditions.

Continue reading ‘Potential resilience to ocean acidification of benthic foraminifers living in Posidonia oceanica meadows: the case of the shallow venting site of Panarea’

The coral reef-dwelling Peneroplis spp. shows calcification recovery to ocean acidification conditions

Large Benthic Foraminifera are a crucial component of coral-reef ecosystems, which are currently threatened by ocean acidification. We conducted culture experiments to evaluate the impact of low pH on survival and test dissolution of the symbiont-bearing species Peneroplis spp., and to observe potential calcification recovery when specimens are placed back under reference pH value (7.9). We found that Peneroplis spp. displayed living activity up to 3 days at pH 6.9 (Ωcal < 1) or up to 1 month at pH 7.4 (Ωcal > 1), despite the dark and unfed conditions. Dissolution features were observed under low Ωcal values, such as changes in test density, peeled extrados layers, and decalcified tests with exposed organic linings. A new calcification phase started when specimens were placed back at reference pH. This calcification’s resumption was an addition of new chambers without reparation of the dissolved parts, which is consistent with the porcelaneous calcification pathway of Peneroplis spp. The most decalcified specimens displayed a strong survival response by adding up to 8 new chambers, and the contribution of food supply in this process was highlighted. These results suggest that porcelaneous LBF species have some recovery abilities to short exposure (e.g., 3 days to 1 month) to acidified conditions. However, the geochemical signature of trace elements in the new calcite was impacted, and the majority of the new chambers were distorted and resulted in abnormal tests, which might hinder the specimens’ reproduction and thus their survival on the long term.

Continue reading ‘The coral reef-dwelling Peneroplis spp. shows calcification recovery to ocean acidification conditions’

Acidification impacts and acclimation potential of foraminifera

Ocean acidification is expected to negatively affect many ecologically important organisms. Here we explored the response of Caribbean benthic foraminiferal communities to naturally discharging low-pH waters similar to expected future projections for the end of the 21st century. At low-pH (~ 7.7 pH units), low calcite saturation, agglutinated and symbiont-bearing species were relatively more abundant, indicating higher resistance to potential carbonate chemistry changes. Diversity and other taxonomical metrics declined steeply with decreasing pH despite exposure of this ecosystem for millennia to low pH conditions, suggesting that tropical foraminifera communities will be negatively impacted under acidification scenarios SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5. The species Archaias angulatus, a major contributor to sediment production in the Caribbean was able to calcify at conditions more extreme than those projected for the late 21st century (7.1 pH units), but the calcified tests were of lower density than those exposed to high-pH ambient conditions (7.96 pH units), indicating that reef foraminiferal carbonate budget might decrease. Smaller foraminifera were highly sensitive to decreasing pH and our results demonstrate their potential as indicators to monitor increasing OA conditions.

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Nocturnal acidification: a coordinating cue in the Euprymna scolopes–Vibrio fischeri Symbiosis

The Vibrio fischeriEuprymna scolopes symbiosis has become a powerful model for the study of specificity, initiation, and maintenance between beneficial bacteria and their eukaryotic partner. In this invertebrate model system, the bacterial symbionts are acquired every generation from the surrounding seawater by newly hatched squid. These symbionts colonize a specialized internal structure called the light organ, which they inhabit for the remainder of the host’s lifetime. The V. fischeri population grows and ebbs following a diel cycle, with high cell densities at night producing bioluminescence that helps the host avoid predation during its nocturnal activities. Rhythmic timing of the growth of the symbionts and their production of bioluminescence only at night is critical for maintaining the symbiosis. V. fischeri symbionts detect their population densities through a behavior termed quorum-sensing, where they secrete and detect concentrations of autoinducer molecules at high cell density when nocturnal production of bioluminescence begins. In this review, we discuss events that lead up to the nocturnal acidification of the light organ and the cues used for pre-adaptive behaviors that both host and symbiont have evolved. This host–bacterium cross talk is used to coordinate networks of regulatory signals (such as quorum-sensing and bioluminescence) that eventually provide a unique yet stable environment for V. fischeri to thrive and be maintained throughout its life history as a successful partner in this dynamic symbiosis.

Continue reading ‘Nocturnal acidification: a coordinating cue in the Euprymna scolopes–Vibrio fischeri Symbiosis’

Synergistic effects of ocean acidification and warming on coral host, Symbiodinium and nutrients exchange-based symbioses indicated by metatranscriptome

Global climate changes e.g. ocean acidification and warming caused by anthropogenic emission of CO2 are the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems. However, compared with the knowledge of Symbiodinium, little is known about the synergistic effects of combined ocean acidification and warming on the coral host and coral-Symbiodinium symbioses. In this study, metatranscriptomic analysis was performed to reveal the response of coral host and its symbiotic Symbiodinium to acidification (A), warming (H) and combined acidification and acidification (AH), using branching A. valida and massive G. fascicularis as models in a laboratory simulation system. RNA-Seq-based differently expressed genes (DEGs), together with coral’s morphological change, suggested the synergistic effects of AH on the coral host and coral-Symbiodinium symbioses, e.g. photosynthesis inhibition and negative effect on nutrients exchange between the host and its Symbiodinium. Particularly, AH showed a far greater impact on coral host than on Symbiodinium. These findings provide novel insights into the molecular mechanism of coral holobionts’ response to future extreme ocean acidification and warming, meanwhile highlight the molecular evidence for the different tolerance of branching and massive corals to environmental changes.

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Surface ocean warming and acidification driven by rapid carbon release precedes Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is recognized by a major negative carbon isotope (δ13C) excursion (CIE) signifying an injection of isotopically light carbon into exogenic reservoirs, the mass, source, and tempo of which continue to be debated. Evidence of a transient precursor carbon release(s) has been identified in a few localities, although it remains equivocal whether there is a global signal. Here, we present foraminiferal δ13C records from a marine continental margin section, which reveal a 1.0 to 1.5‰ negative pre-onset excursion (POE), and concomitant rise in sea surface temperature of at least 2°C and a decline in ocean pH. The recovery of both δ13C and pH before the CIE onset and apparent absence of a POE in deep-sea records suggests a rapid (< ocean mixing time scales) carbon release, followed by recovery driven by deep-sea mixing. Carbon released during the POE is therefore likely more similar to ongoing anthropogenic emissions in mass and rate than the main CIE.

Continue reading ‘Surface ocean warming and acidification driven by rapid carbon release precedes Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’

Interactive effects of acidification and copper exposure on the reproduction and metabolism of coral endosymbiont Cladocopium goreaui


  • Acidification raised growth by Fv/Fm, nutrient uptake and biomolecular biosynthesis.
  • Copper pollution alone decreased algal reproduction through toxic effects.
  • Combined stressor repressed reproduction through downregulated aromatic amino acid.
  • Abstract

Ocean acidification resulting from increased CO2 and pollution from land-sourced toxicants such as copper have been linked to coral cover declines in coastal reef ecosystems. The impacts of ocean acidification and copper pollution on corals have been intensively investigated, whereas research on their effects on coral endosymbiont Symbiodiniaceae is limited. In this study, reproduction, photosynthetic parameters, nutrient accumulation and metabolome of Symbiodiniaceae Cladocopium goreaui were investigated after a weeklong treatment with acute CO2-induced acidification and copper ion. Acidification promoted algal reproduction through increased nutrients assimilation, upregulated citrate cycle and biomolecular biosynthesis pathway, while copper exposure repressed algal reproduction through toxic effects. The combined acidification and copper exposure caused the same decline in algal reproduction as copper exposure alone, but the upregulation of pentose phosphate pathway and the downregulation of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis. These results suggest that copper pollution could override the positive effects of acidification on the symbiodiniacean reproduction.

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Physiological acclimatization in Hawaiian corals following a 22-month shift in baseline seawater temperature and pH

Climate change poses a major threat to coral reefs. We conducted an outdoor 22-month experiment to investigate if coral could not just survive, but also physiologically cope, with chronic ocean warming and acidification conditions expected later this century under the Paris Climate Agreement. We recorded survivorship and measured eleven phenotypic traits to evaluate the holobiont responses of Hawaiian coral: color, Symbiodiniaceae density, calcification, photosynthesis, respiration, total organic carbon flux, carbon budget, biomass, lipids, protein, and maximum Artemia capture rate. Survivorship was lowest in Montipora capitata and only some survivors were able to meet metabolic demand and physiologically cope with future ocean conditions. Most M. capitata survivors bleached through loss of chlorophyll pigments and simultaneously experienced increased respiration rates and negative carbon budgets due to a 236% increase in total organic carbon losses under combined future ocean conditions. Porites compressa and Porites lobata had the highest survivorship and coped well under future ocean conditions with positive calcification and increased biomass, maintenance of lipids, and the capacity to exceed their metabolic demand through photosynthesis and heterotrophy. Thus, our findings show that significant biological diversity within resilient corals like Porites, and some genotypes of sensitive species, will persist this century provided atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are controlled. Since Porites corals are ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans and often major reef builders, the persistence of this resilient genus provides hope for future reef ecosystem function globally.

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Modelling antifouling compounds of macroalgal holobionts in current and future pH conditions

Marine macroalgae are important ecosystem engineers in marine coastal habitats. Macroalgae can be negatively impacted through excessive colonization by harmful bacteria, fungi, microalgae, and macro-colonisers and thus employ a range of chemical compounds to minimize such colonization. Recent research suggests that environmental pH conditions potentially impact the functionality of such chemical compounds. Here we predict if and how naturally fluctuating pH conditions and future conditions caused by ocean acidification will affect macroalgal (antifouling) compounds and thereby potentially alter the chemical defence mediated by these compounds. We defined the relevant ecological pH range, analysed and scored the pH-sensitivity of compounds with antifouling functions based on their modelled chemical properties before assessing their distribution across the phylogenetic macroalgal groups, and the proportion of sensitive compounds for each investigated function. For some key compounds, we also predicted in detail how the associated ecological function may develop across the pH range. The majority of compounds were unaffected by pH, but compounds containing phenolic and amine groups were found to be particularly sensitive to pH. Future pH changes due to predicted average open ocean acidification pH were found to have little effect. Compounds from Rhodophyta were mainly pH-stable. However, key algal species amongst Phaeophyceae and Chlorophyta were found to rely on highly pH-sensitive compounds for their chemical defence against harmful bacteria, microalgae, fungi, and biofouling by macro-organisms. All quorum sensing disruptive compounds were found the be unaffected by pH, but the other ecological functions were all conveyed in part by pH-sensitive compounds. For some ecological keystone species, all of their compounds mediating defence functions were found to be pH-sensitive based on our calculations, which may not only affect the health and fitness of the host alga resulting in host breakdown but also alter the associated ecological interactions of the macroalgal holobiont with micro and macrocolonisers, eventually causing ecosystem restructuring and the functions (e.g. habitat provision) provided by macroalgal hosts. Our study investigates a question of fundamental importance because environments with fluctuating or changing pH are common and apply not only to coastal marine habitats and estuaries but also to freshwater environments or terrestrial systems that are subject to acid rain. Hence, whilst warranting experimental validation, this investigation with macroalgae as model organisms can serve as a basis for future investigations in other aquatic or even terrestrial systems.

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Physiological responses of the symbiotic shrimp Ancylocaris brevicarpalis and its host sea anemone Stichodactyla haddoni to ocean acidification


  • Low pH condition have triggered the lipid peroxidation in anemone and shrimp.
  • AP showed less values in shrimp and anemone could be because of low pH stress.
  • Antioxidant enzymes showed upward tendency as an indicator for oxidative stress.
  • Short term exposure had adversely affected the physiology of anemone and shrimp.


In this study, the physiology of symbiotic ‘peacock-tail’ shrimp Ancylocaris brevicarpalis and its host ‘Haddon’s carpet’ sea anemone Stichodactyla haddoni were tested under lowered pH (7.7) and control (8.1) conditions. The biochemical responses such as digestive enzyme (AP), organic acids (lactate and succinate), oxidative damages (MDA), antioxidants metabolites/enzymes (ASC, GSH, SODCATAPXGPX, GR, POX, and PHOX), and detoxification enzyme (GST) were measured. The AP showed insignificantly reduced values in both the organisms in lowered pH conditions compared to control indicating the effect of abiotic stress. The hierarchical clustering analysis indicated low MDA in sea anemone can be explained by higher POX, APX, GR, ASC, and GSH levels compared to shrimps. However, the detoxification enzyme GST showed less activity in sea anemones compared to shrimps. The results suggest that A. brevicarpalis and sea anemone S. haddoni may have deleterious effects when exposed to short-term acidification stress.

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