Posts Tagged 'reproduction'

Sensitivity of sea urchin fertilization to pH varies across a natural pH mosaic

In the coastal ocean, temporal fluctuations in pH vary dramatically across biogeographic ranges. How such spatial differences in pH variability regimes might shape ocean acidification resistance in marine species remains unknown. We assessed the pH sensitivity of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in the context of ocean pH variability. Using unique male–female pairs, originating from three sites with similar mean pH but different variability and frequency of low pH (pHT ≤ 7.8) exposures, fertilization was tested across a range of pH (pHT 7.61–8.03) and sperm concentrations. High fertilization success was maintained at low pH via a slight right shift in the fertilization function across sperm concentration. This pH effect differed by site. Urchins from the site with the narrowest pH variability regime exhibited the greatest pH sensitivity. At this site, mechanistic fertilization dynamics models support a decrease in sperm–egg interaction rate with decreasing pH. The site differences in pH sensitivity build upon recent evidence of local pH adaptation in S. purpuratus and highlight the need to incorporate environmental variability in the study of global change biology.

Continue reading ‘Sensitivity of sea urchin fertilization to pH varies across a natural pH mosaic’

Marine gametes in a changing ocean: Impacts of climate change stressors on fecundity and the egg

In marine invertebrates, the environmental history of the mother can influence fecundity and egg size. Acclimation of females in climate change stressors, increased temperature and low pH, results in a decrease in egg number and size in many taxa, with the exception of cephalopods, where eggs increase in size. With respect to spawned eggs, near future levels of ocean acidification can interfere with the eggs’ block to polyspermy and intracellular pH. Reduction of the extracellular egg jelly coat seen in low pH conditions has implications for impaired egg function and fertilization. Some fast generation species (e.g. copepods, polychaetes) have shown restoration of female reproductive output after several generations in treatments. It will be important to determine if the changes to egg number and size induced by exposure to climate change stressors are heritable.

Continue reading ‘Marine gametes in a changing ocean: Impacts of climate change stressors on fecundity and the egg’

Response of Marginopora vertebralis (Foraminifera) from Laucala Bay, Fiji, to changing ocean pH

Increased CO2 emissions into the atmosphere lead to increased concentrations of dissolved CO2 in the ocean. A chemical reaction between the dissolved CO2 and seawater produces HCO3 −, CO3 2− and H+ ions. These H+ ions increase the acidity of seawater and decrease the pH. Increased acidity and decreased availability of CO3 2− ion affect calcite and aragonite production by marine calcifiers in the ocean. To assess potential responses of the larger benthic foraminifer Marginopora vertebralis to ocean acidification, we performed growth experiments at three pH levels [7.5, 7.8, 8.1 (ambient seawater)] for 11 weeks. Specimens were stained with the fluorescent compound Calcein ( ̴40 µmole/l) prior to treatment, allowing identification of calcite added during the treatment period. At pH 8.1, specimens increased their test weight by 8.4%, at pH 7.8 growth was 4.2%, and at pH 7.5, growth was only 3.2%. These differences represent a significant relationship between ocean pH and test growth (i.e., calcification). In addition, several specimens in the pH 8.1 treatment underwent asexual reproduction during the experiment, while no reproduction was observed in the pH 7.8 or 7.5 treatments. These results indicate that ocean acidification predicted to occur by the end of the 21st century will cause a decline in population densities of Marginopora vertebralis in their natural environment, as consequences of both reduced growth rates and rates of reproduction. And because the tests of these foraminifers are important components of carbonate sediments on coral cays and tropical beaches, a decline in their rates of sediment production will exacerbate the consequences of rising sea level.

Continue reading ‘Response of Marginopora vertebralis (Foraminifera) from Laucala Bay, Fiji, to changing ocean pH’

Ocean acidification and kelp development: Reduced pH has no negative effects on meiospore germination and gametophyte development of Macrocystis pyrifera and Undaria pinnatifida

The absorption of anthropogenic CO2 by the oceans is causing a reduction in the pH of the surface waters termed ocean acidification (OA). This could have substantial effects on marine coastal environments where fleshy (non-calcareous) macroalgae are dominant primary producers and ecosystem engineers. Few OA studies have focused on the early life stages of large macroalgae such as kelps. This study evaluated the effects of seawater pH on the ontogenic development of meiospores of the native kelp Macrocystis pyrifera and the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida, in south-eastern New Zealand. Meiospores of both kelps were released into four seawater pH treatments (pHT 7.20, extreme OA predicted for 2300; pHT 7.65, OA predicted for 2100; pHT 8.01, ambient pH; and pHT 8.40, pre-industrial pH) and cultured for 15 d. Meiospore germination, germling growth rate, and gametophyte size and sex ratio were monitored and measured. Exposure to reduced pHT (7.20 and 7.65) had positive effects on germling growth rate and gametophyte size in both M. pyrifera and U. pinnatifida, whereas, higher pHT (8.01 and 8.40) reduced the gametophyte size in both kelps. Sex ratio of gametophytes of both kelps was biased towards females under all pHT treatments, except for U. pinnatifida at pHT 7.65. Germling growth rate under OA was significantly higher in M. pyrifera compared to U. pinnatifida but gametophyte development was equal for both kelps under all seawater pHT treatments, indicating that the microscopic stages of the native M. pyrifera and the invasive U. pinnatifida will respond similarly to OA.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and kelp development: Reduced pH has no negative effects on meiospore germination and gametophyte development of Macrocystis pyrifera and Undaria pinnatifida’

Does sex really matter? Explaining intraspecies variation in ocean acidification responses

Ocean acidification (OA) poses a major threat to marine ecosystems globally, having significant ecological and economic importance. The number and complexity of experiments examining the effects of OA has substantially increased over the past decade, in an attempt to address multi-stressor interactions and long-term responses in an increasing range of aquatic organisms. However, differences in the response of males and females to elevated pCO2 have been investigated in fewer than 4% of studies to date, often being precluded by the difficulty of determining sex non-destructively, particularly in early life stages. Here we highlight that sex can significantly impact organism responses to OA, differentially affecting physiology, reproduction, biochemistry and ultimately survival. What is more, these impacts do not always conform to ecological theory based on differential resource allocation towards reproduction, which would predict females to be more sensitive to OA owing to the higher production cost of eggs compared with sperm. Therefore, non-sex-specific studies may overlook subtle but ecologically significant differences in the responses of males and females to OA, with consequences for forecasting the fate of natural populations in a near-future ocean.

Continue reading ‘Does sex really matter? Explaining intraspecies variation in ocean acidification responses’

Role of potassium and pH on the initiation of sperm motility in the European eel

The role of potassium from the seminal plasma and/or the activation media was examined by selectively removing K+ from this media, and by testing the use of K+ channel inhibitors and a K-ionophore. Sperm motility was measured using a CASA system, intracellular K+ and pH were measured by flow cytometry, and sperm head area was measured by ASMA: Automated Sperm Morphometry Analyses. Sperm motility was notably inhibited by the removal of K+ from the seminal plasma and by treatment with the K+ ionophore valinomycin. This therefore indicates that a reduction of K+ levels in the quiescent stage inhibits further motility. The normal decrease in sperm head area induced by seawater activation was altered by the removal of K+ from the seminal plasma, and an increase in the pHi in the quiescent stage was also induced. Intracellular pH (pHi) was quantitatively measured for the first time in European eel spermatozoa, being 7.2 in the quiescent stage and 7.1 post-activation. Intracellular and external pH levels influenced sperm motility both in the quiescent stage and at activation. The alkalinization of the pHi (by NH4Cl) inhibited sperm motility activation, while acidification (by Na-acetate) did not have any effect. Our results indicate that a pH gradient between the sperm cell and the seminal plasma is necessary for sperm motility activation. The presence of the ion K+ in the seminal plasma (or in the extender medium) is necessary in order to maintain sperm volume, intracellular pH and sperm motility.

Continue reading ‘Role of potassium and pH on the initiation of sperm motility in the European eel’

Genomic characterization of the evolutionary potential of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis facing ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) is increasing due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and poses a threat to marine species and communities worldwide. To better project the effects of acidification on organisms’ health and persistence an understanding is needed of (1) the mechanisms underlying developmental and physiological tolerance, and (2) the potential populations have for rapid evolutionary adaptation. This is especially challenging in non-model species where targeted assays of metabolism and stress physiology may not be available or economical for large-scale assessments of genetic constraints. We used mRNA sequencing and a quantitative genetics breeding design to study mechanisms underlying genetic variability and tolerance to decreased seawater pH (-0.4 pH units) in larvae of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. We used a gene ontology-based approach to integrate expression profiles into indirect measures of cellular and biochemical traits underlying variation in larval performance (i.e., growth rates). Molecular responses to OA were complex, involving changes to several functions such as growth rates, cell division, metabolism, and immune activities. Surprisingly, the magnitude of pH effects on molecular traits tended to be small relative to variation attributable to segregating functional genetic variation in this species. We discuss how the application of transcriptomics and quantitative genetics approaches across diverse species can enrich our understanding of the biological impacts of climate change.

Continue reading ‘Genomic characterization of the evolutionary potential of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis facing ocean acidification’


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