Posts Tagged 'respiration'

Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios

Coastal hypoxia is a problem that is predicted to increase rapidly in the future. At the same time we are facing rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which are increasing the pCO2 and acidity of coastal waters. These two drivers are well studied in isolation however; the coupling of low O2 and pH is likely to provide a more significant respiratory challenge for slow moving and sessile invertebrates than is currently predicted. The Gullmar Fjord in Sweden is home to a range of habitats such as sand and mud flats, seagrass beds, exposed and protected shorelines, and rocky bottoms. Moreover, it has a history of both natural and anthropogenically enhanced hypoxia as well as North Sea upwelling, where salty water reaches the surface towards the end of summer and early autumn. A total of 11 species (Crustacean, Chordate, Echinoderm and Mollusc) of these ecosystems were exposed to four different treatments (high/low oxygen and low/high CO2; varying pCO2 of 450 and 1300 ppm and O2 concentrations of 2–3.5 and 9–10 mg L−1) and respiration measured after 3 and 6 days, respectively. This allows us to evaluate respiration responses of species of contrasting habitats and life-history strategies to single and multiple stressors. Results show that the responses of the respiration were highly species specific as we observed both synergetic as well as antagonistic responses, and neither phylum nor habitat explained trends in respiratory responses. Management plans should avoid the generalized assumption that combined stressors will results in multiplicative effects and focus attention on alleviating hypoxia in the region.
Continue reading ‘Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios’

Metabolic response and thermal tolerance of green abalone juveniles (Haliotis fulgens: Gastropoda) under acute hypoxia and hypercapnia


  • Assessment of the impacts of hypoxia and hypercapnia on thermal tolerance
  • Hypoxia induced a downshift in critical temperature.
  • Hypercapnia did not affect thermal tolerance.
  • Both drivers combined prompted a stronger narrowing of thermal tolerance.
  • Warming stress induced protein degradation under all experimental conditions.


With ongoing climate change, rising ocean temperature is usually accompanied by falling oxygen levels (hypoxia) and increasing CO2 concentration (hypercapnia). Both drivers may impose constraints on physiological mechanisms that define thermal limits resulting in increased vulnerability towards warming in marine ectotherms. The present study aimed to detect differences in thermal tolerance by investigating the underlying metabolic responses in the green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) under conditions of hypoxia and hypercapnia. Juvenile abalones were exposed to a temperature ramp (+ 3 °C day− 1) under hypoxia (50% air saturation) and hypercapnia (~ 1000 μatm pCO2), both individually and in combination. Impacts on energy metabolism were assessed by analyzing whole animal respiration rates and metabolic profiles of gills and hepatopancreas via 1H NMR spectroscopy. While hypercapnia had a minor impact on the results of the temperature treatment, hypoxia strongly increased the vulnerability to warming, indicated by respiration rates falling below values expected from an exponential increase and by the onset of anaerobic metabolism suggesting a downward shift of the upper critical temperature. Warming under combined hypoxia and hypercapnia elicited a severe change in metabolism involving a strong accumulation of amino acids, osmolytes and anaerobic end products at intermediate temperatures, followed by declining concentrations at warmer temperatures. This matched the limited capacity to increase metabolic rate, loss of attachment and mortality observed under these conditions suggesting a strong narrowing of the thermal window. In all cases, the accumulation of free amino acids identified proteins as a significant energy source during warming stress.

Continue reading ‘Metabolic response and thermal tolerance of green abalone juveniles (Haliotis fulgens: Gastropoda) under acute hypoxia and hypercapnia’

Effect of CO2-induced seawater acidification on growth, photosynthesis and inorganic carbon acquisition of the harmful bloom-forming marine microalga, Karenia mikimotoi

Karenia mikimotoi is a widespread, toxic and non-calcifying dinoflagellate, which can release and produce ichthyotoxins and hemolytic toxins affecting the food web within the area of its bloom. Shifts in the physiological characteristics of K. mikimotoi due to CO2-induced seawater acidification could alter the occurrence, severity and impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Here, we investigated the effects of elevated pCO2 on the physiology of K. mikimotoi. Using semi-continuous cultures under controlled laboratory conditions, growth, photosynthesis and inorganic carbon acquisition were determined over 4–6 week incubations at ambient (390ppmv) and elevated pCO2 levels (1000 ppmv and 2000 ppmv). pH-drift and inhibitor-experiments suggested that K. mikimotoi was capable of acquiring HCO3-, and that the utilization of HCO3-was predominantly mediated by anion-exchange proteins, but that HCO3- dehydration catalyzed by external carbonic anhydrase (CAext) only played a minor role in K. mikimotoi. Even though down-regulated CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) and enhanced gross photosynthetic O2 evolution were observed under 1000 ppmv CO2 conditions, the saved energy did not stimulate growth of K. mikimotoi under 1000 ppmv CO2, probably due to the increased dark respiration. However, significantly higher growth and photosynthesis [in terms of photosynthetic oxygen evolution, effective quantum Yield (Yield), photosynthetic efficiency (α), light saturation point (Ek) and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) activity] were observed under 2000 ppmv CO2 conditions. Furthermore, elevated pCO2increased the photo-inhibition rate of photosystem II (β) and non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) at high light. We suggest that the energy saved through the down-regulation of CCMs might lead to the additional light stress and photo-damage. Therefore, the response of this species to elevated CO2 conditions will be determined by more than regulation and efficiency of CCMs.

Continue reading ‘Effect of CO2-induced seawater acidification on growth, photosynthesis and inorganic carbon acquisition of the harmful bloom-forming marine microalga, Karenia mikimotoi’

Implications of ocean acidification in the Pacific Arctic: Experimental responses of three Arctic bivalves to decreased pH and food availability

Recent sea ice retreat and seawater warming in the Pacific Arctic are physical changes that are impacting arctic biological communities. Recently, ocean acidification from increases in anthropogenic CO2 has been identified as an additional stressor, particularly to calcifying organisms like bivalves. These bivalves are common prey items for benthivorous predators such as Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus), and diving seaducks, such as Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri) ( Moore et al. 2014). We investigated the effects of decreased pH and food availability on growth (% change in length and wet weight and allometric growth characterizations) and oxygen consumption (mg/L/hour) of three common Arctic bivalves, Macoma calcarea, Astarte montagui, and Astarte borealis. Two sets of experiments were run for seven and eleven weeks, exposing the bivalves to control (8.05 ± 0.02 and 8.19 ± 0.003, respectively) and acidified (7.76 ± 0.01 and 7.86 ± 0.01, respectively) pH treatments. Length, weight, and oxygen consumption were not significantly different among the varying treatments after the seven-week exposure and only one significant effect of decreased pH and one significant effect of decreased food availability were observed after the end of the eleven-week exposure. Specifically, shells of A. borealis displayed a decrease in length in response to decreased pH and M. calcarea showed a decrease in length in response to limited food. The negative effects of pH observed in the experiments on growth and oxygen consumption were small, suggesting that at least two of these species are generally resilient to decreasing pH.

Continue reading ‘Implications of ocean acidification in the Pacific Arctic: Experimental responses of three Arctic bivalves to decreased pH and food availability’

Numerical modeling of fish mortality at high CO2 concentrations representing acclimation

A mortality model was developed to predict the impact of high CO2 concentrations on marine fish. To allow for acclimation to a gradual increase of PCO2, the model includes acid–base regulation processes, such as respiration and ion-exchange at the gills. Because the physiological mechanism connecting a decrease in blood pH and mortality is not known, a statistical model was adopted. The mortality calculated for Japanese sillago experiencing a transient change of PCO2 compares moderately well with observations.

Continue reading ‘Numerical modeling of fish mortality at high CO2 concentrations representing acclimation’

The effects of pH and pCO2 on photosynthesis and respiration in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii

The response of marine phytoplankton to the ongoing increase in atmospheric pCO2 reflects the consequences of both increased CO2 concentration and decreased pH in surface seawater. In the model diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii, we explored the effects of varying pCO2 and pH, independently and in concert, on photosynthesis and respiration by incubating samples in water enriched in H218O. In long-term experiments (~6-h) at saturating light intensity, we observed no effects of pH or pCO2 on growth rate, photosynthesis or respiration. This absence of a measurable response reflects the very small change in energy used by the carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM) compared to the energy used in carbon fixation. In short-term experiments (~3 min), we also observed no effects of pCO2 or pH, even under limiting light intensity. We surmise that in T. weissflogii, it is the photosynthetic production of NADPH and ATP, rather than the CO2-saturation of Rubisco that controls the rate of photosynthesis at low irradiance. In short-term experiments, we observed a slightly higher respiration rate at low pH at the onset of the dark period, possibly reflecting the energy used for exporting H+ and maintaining pH homeostasis. Based on what is known of the biochemistry of marine phytoplankton, our results are likely generalizable to other diatoms and a number of other eukaryotic species. The direct effects of ocean acidification on growth, photosynthesis and respiration in these organisms should be small over the range of atmospheric pCO2 predicted for the twenty-first century.

Continue reading ‘The effects of pH and pCO2 on photosynthesis and respiration in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii’

Overwintering individuals of the Arctic krill Thysanoessa inermis appear tolerant to short-term exposure to low pH conditions

Areas of the Arctic Ocean are already experiencing seasonal variation in low pH/elevated pCO2and are predicted to be the most affected by future ocean acidification (OA). Krill play a fundamental ecological role within Arctic ecosystems, serving as a vital link in the transfer of energy from phytoplankton to higher trophic levels. However, little is known of the chemical habitat occupied by Arctic invertebrate species, and of their responses to changes in seawater pH. Therefore, understanding krill’s responses to low pH conditions has important implications for the prediction of how Arctic marine communities may respond to future ocean change. Here, we present natural seawater carbonate chemistry conditions found in the late polar winter (April) in Kongsfjord, Svalbard (79°North) as well as the response of the Arctic krill, Thysanoessa inermis, exposed to a range of low pH conditions. Standard metabolic rate (measured as oxygen consumption) and energy metabolism markers (incl. adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and l-lactate) of T. inermis were examined. We show that after a 7 days experiment with T. inermis, no significant effects of low pH on MO2, ATP and l-lactate were observed. Additionally, we report carbonate chemistry from within Kongsfjord, which showed that the more stratified inner fjord had lower total alkalinity, higher dissolved inorganic carbon, pCO2 and lower pH than the well-mixed outer fjord. Consequently, our results suggest that overwintering individuals of T. inermis may possess sufficient ability to tolerate short-term low pH conditions due to their migratory behaviour, which exposes T. inermis to the naturally varying carbonate chemistry observed within Kongsfjord, potentially allowing T. inermis to tolerate future OA scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Overwintering individuals of the Arctic krill Thysanoessa inermis appear tolerant to short-term exposure to low pH conditions’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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