Posts Tagged 'sediments'

Bacterial communities are more sensitive to ocean acidification than fungal communities in estuarine sediments

Ocean acidification (OA) in estuaries is becoming a global concern, and may affect microbial characteristics in estuarine sediments. Bacterial communities in response to acidification in this habitat have been well discussed; however, knowledge about how fungal communities respond to OA remains poorly understood. Here, we explored the effects of acidification on bacterial and fungal activities, structures and functions in estuarine sediments during a 50-day incubation experiment. Under acidified conditions, activities of three extracellular enzymes related to nutrient cycling were inhibited and basal respiration rates were decreased. Acidification significantly altered bacterial communities and their interactions, while weak alkalization had a minor impact on fungal communities. We distinguished pH-sensitive/tolerant bacteria and fungi in estuarine sediments, and found that only pH-sensitive/tolerant bacteria had strong correlations with sediment basal respiration activity. FUNGuild analysis indicated that animal pathogen abundances in sediment were greatly increased by acidification, while plant pathogens were unaffected. High-throughput quantitative PCR-based SmartChip analysis suggested that the nutrient cycling-related multifunctionality of sediments was reduced under acidified conditions. Most functional genes associated with nutrient cycling were identified in bacterial communities and their relative abundances were decreased by acidification. These new findings highlight that acidification in estuarine regions affects bacterial and fungal communities differently, increases potential pathogens and disrupts bacteria-mediated nutrient cycling.

Continue reading ‘Bacterial communities are more sensitive to ocean acidification than fungal communities in estuarine sediments’

Current and future trophic interactions in tropical shallow-reef lagoon habitats

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediments are the dominant form of CaCO3 on coral reefs accumulating in lagoon and inter-reefal areas. Owing to their mineralogy and a range of physical parameters, tropical CaCO3 sediments are predicted to be more sensitive to dissolution driven by ocean acidification than the skeleton of living reef organisms. How this scales up to impact infaunal organisms, which are an important food source for higher trophic levels, and thereby ecosystem functioning, is not well explored. We combined seasonal field surveys in a shallow-reef lagoon ecosystem on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, with stable isotope analyses and a tank-based experiment to examine the potential top-down influence of the deposit-feeding sea cucumber, Stichopus herrmanni, on this infaunal community under current and future ocean pH. Densities of surface-sediment meiofauna were lowest in winter and spring, with harpacticoid copepods (38%) and nematodes (27%) the dominant taxa. Stable isotope analyses showed that S. herrmanni had a top-down influence on meiofauna and microphytes with a distinct δ13C and δ15N trophic position that was homogenous across seasons and locations. Tanks that mimicked sandy shallow-reef lagoon habitats were used to examine the effects of ocean acidification (elevated pCO2) on this trophic interaction. We used outdoor control (sediment only) and experimental (sediment plus S. herrmanni) tanks maintained at present-day and near-future pCO2 (+ 570 µatm) for 24 days, which fluctuated with the diel pCO2 cycle. In sediment-only tanks, copepods were > twofold more abundant at elevated pCO2, with no negative effects documented for any meiofauna group. When included in the community, top-down control by S. herrmanni counteracted the positive effects of low pH on meiofaunal abundance. We highlight a novel perspective in coral reef trophodynamics between surface-sediment meiofauna and deposit-feeding sea cucumbers, and posit that community shifts may occur in shallow-reef lagoon habitats in a future ocean with implications for the functioning of coral reefs from the bottom up.

Continue reading ‘Current and future trophic interactions in tropical shallow-reef lagoon habitats’

Differential sensitivity of a symbiont‐bearing foraminifer to seawater carbonate chemistry in a decoupled DIC‐pH experiment

Larger benthic foraminifera (LBF) are unicellular eukaryotic calcifying organisms and an important component of tropical and subtropical modern and ancient oceanic ecosystems. They are major calcium carbonate producers and important contributors to primary production due to the photosynthetic activity of their symbiotic algae. Studies investigating the response of LBF to seawater carbonate chemistry changes are therefore essential for understanding the impact of climate changes and ocean acidification (OA) on shallow marine ecosystems. In this study, calcification, respiration, and photosynthesis of the widespread diatom‐bearing LBF Operculina ammonoides were measured in laboratory experiments that included manipulation of carbonate chemistry parameters. pH was altered while keeping dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) constant, and DIC was altered while keeping pH constant. The results show clear vulnerability of O. ammonoides to low pH and CO32− under constant DIC conditions, and no increased photosynthesis or calcification under high DIC concentrations. Our results call into question previous hypotheses, suggesting that mechanisms such as the degree of cellular control on calcification site pH/DIC and/or enhanced symbiont photosynthesis in response to OA may render the hyaline (perforate and calcitic‐radial) LBF to be less responsive to OA than porcelaneous LBF. In addition, manipulating DIC did not affect calcification when pH was close to present seawater levels in a model encompassing the total population size range. In contrast, larger individuals (>1,200 μm, >1 mg) were sensitive to changes in DIC, a phenomenon we attribute to their physiological requirement to concentrate large quantities of DIC for their calcification process.

Continue reading ‘Differential sensitivity of a symbiont‐bearing foraminifer to seawater carbonate chemistry in a decoupled DIC‐pH experiment’

Evolution of deep-sea sediments across the Paleocene-Eocene and Eocene-Oligocene boundaries

The composition and distribution of deep-sea sediments is the result of a multitude of climatic, biotic and oceanic conditions relating to biogeochemical cycles and environmental change. Here we utilize the extensive sediment archives of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and its predecessors to construct maps of deep-sea sediment type across two critical but contrasting boundaries in the Paleogene, one characterised by an interval of extreme warmth (Paleocene/Eocene) and the other by global cooling (Eocene/Oligocene). Ocean sediment distribution shows significant divergence both between the latest Paleocene and Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), across the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT), and in comparison to modern sediment distributions. Carbonate sedimentation in the latest Paleocene extends to high southern latitudes. Disappearance of carbonate sediments at the PETM is well documented and can be attributed to dissolution caused by significant ocean acidification as a result of carbon-cycle perturbation. Biosiliceous sediments are rare and it is posited that the reduced biogenic silica deposition at the equator is commensurate with an overall lack of equatorial upwelling in the early Paleogene ocean. In the Southern Ocean, we attribute the low in biosiliceous burial, to the warm deep water temperatures which would have impacted biogenic silica preservation. In the late Eocene, our sediment depositional maps record a tongue of radiolarian ooze in the eastern equatorial Pacific. Enhanced biosiliceous deposits in the late Eocene equatorial Pacific and Southern Ocean are due to increased productivity and the spin-up of the oceans. Our compilation documents the enhanced global carbonate sedimentation in the early Oligocene, confirming that the drop in the carbonate compensation depth was global.

Continue reading ‘Evolution of deep-sea sediments across the Paleocene-Eocene and Eocene-Oligocene boundaries’

Warming and ocean acidification may decrease estuarine dissolved organic carbon export to the ocean

Estuaries make a disproportionately large contribution of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to the global carbon cycle, but it is unknown how this will change under a future climate. As such, the response of DOC fluxes from microbially dominated unvegetated sediments to individual and combined future climate stressors of warming (from Δ−3 °C to Δ+5 °C on ambient mean temperatures) and ocean acidification (OA, ~2 times the current partial pressure of CO2, pCO2) was investigated ex situ. Warming alone increased sediment heterotrophy, resulting in a proportional increase in sediment DOC uptake, with sediments becoming net sinks of DOC (3.5 to 8.8 mmol-C m−2 d−1) at warmer temperatures (Δ+3 °C and Δ+5 °C, respectively). This temperature response changed under OA conditions, with sediments becoming more autotrophic and a greater sink of DOC (1 to 4 times greater than under current-pCO2). This response was attributed to the stimulation of heterotrophic bacteria with the autochthonous production of labile organic matter by microphytobenthos. Extrapolating these results to the global area of unvegetated subtidal estuarine sediments, the future climate of warming (Δ+3 °C) and OA may decrease the estuarine export of DOC by ~80 % (~150 Tg-C yr−1) and have a disproportionately large impact on the global DOC budget.

Continue reading ‘Warming and ocean acidification may decrease estuarine dissolved organic carbon export to the ocean’

Siderophore production by bacteria isolated from mangrove sediments: a microcosm study

Highlights

  • Siderophores are organic ligands produced by bacteria primarily for iron sequestration.
  • In this study, siderophore production was independent of warmer temperatures that helped growth of the bacterial isolates.
  • Ocean acidification (pH 6.5 to 7.5) did not suppress siderophore production in these strains.
  • In this study, bacterial isolates used diverse carbon sources to produce siderophores.
  • Such responses of pathogenic strains may help in their survival in changing global environment, hence is of concern.

Abstract

Mangroves are one of the most productive ecosystems worldwide covering up to 75% of the coastline in the tropics and subtropics. They support a highly diverse community (marine and terrestrial) and serves as reservoirs of nutrients for coastal and shelf waters. Bacterial diversity in mangroves includes heterotrophs, autotrophs (nitrogen fixation) and pathogens (phytopathogens, marine, and human). All these bacterial groups require sequestration of bioavailable iron, which is largely done by the production of siderophores. In this study, microcosm experiments were conducted to test the effect of incubation conditions (temperature, iron concentration, pH, and carbon source) on growth and siderophore production in four mangrove sediment bacterial isolates- Escherichia vulneris, Enterobacter cancerogenus, Pantoea agglomerans, and Enterobacter bugandensis. Our study showed that all isolates produce more siderophores (30 to 60%) at low iron concentrations (10 nM to 1 μM) during lag-phase and early log-phase of growth. Low temperature suppressed bacterial growth without significantly altering the siderophore production, whereas low pH suppressed both growth and siderophore production in these isolates. Although all isolates could produce siderophores when using different carbon sources, glucose served as an ideal carbon source. The observed changes in growth and siderophore production may be attributed to species-specific physiological traits, changes in bioavailability of iron and/or combination of both. Our results suggest that in a changing global environment, warming of the surrounding waters may not reduce the siderophore production and hence, they will be essential in sustaining bacterial activity in sediments.

Continue reading ‘Siderophore production by bacteria isolated from mangrove sediments: a microcosm study’

Effect of Theora lubrica on the response of coastal soft sediment nitrogen cycling to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification could influence nitrogen cycling in coastal soft sediments, which are moderated by bioturbating macrofauna. The functioning of coastal ecosystems has a strong connection with nitrogen fluxes that occur at the sediment–seawater interface; the disturbance of the sediment matrix via bioturbation can significantly alter these fluxes. To investigate how decreasing seawater pH affects the fluxes of 02, NH4+, NO2– and NO3–, I incubated sediment core samples of intact coastal subtidal silt in four seawater recirculating systems and injected CO2 to adjust their pH to 8.0, 7.8, 7.6 and 7.4. I also incorporated bioturbation via a Bivalve treatment by adding 10 Theora lubrica (introduced infaunal bivalve) to a sediment core. Furthermore, the experiment was done in full darkness to eliminate photosynthesis, and salinity and temperature were controlled variables. Initial measurements at in situ pCO2 indicated, that the Bivalve treatment significantly increased NH4+ and NO3– effluxes, and O2 influxes, but had no effect on NO2- fluxes. After a 20-day incubation, the final measurements revealed, that seawater acidification significantly increased NH4+ and NO2– effluxes, but had no effect on the fluxes of NO3- and O2. Furthermore, I detected no significant effects on nitrogen fluxes by the interaction between the pH and Bivalve treatments; however, the interaction significantly decreased O2 influxes. I hypothesise that the addition of T. lubrica stimulated ammonification and nitrification at in situ pCO2 during the initial measurements. I also suspect that seawater acidification decreased coupled nitrification-denitrification during the final measurements. Furthermore, I suggest that T. lubrica caused both direct and indirect effects on the sediment matrix, leading to the significant decrease in O2 influxes during lower seawater pH within the Bivalve treatment cores. Overall, my study was conclusive because I was able to prove that T. lubrica had no influence on coastal soft sediment nitrogen cycling during seawater acidification. Furthermore, I demonstrated that seawater acidification significantly affected sediment nitrogen cycling, which means ocean acidification could have a profound impact on coastal ecosystem functioning in the future.

Continue reading ‘Effect of Theora lubrica on the response of coastal soft sediment nitrogen cycling to ocean acidification’

Nutrient enrichment promotes eutrophication in the form of macroalgal blooms causing cascading effects in two anthropogenically disturbed coastal ecosystems

Humans are impacting almost every major ecological process that structures communities and ecosystems. Examples of how human activity can directly control key processes in ecosystems include destruction of habitat changing trophic structure, nutrient pollution altering competitive outcomes, overharvesting of consumers reducing top down control, and now climate change impacting virtually every global biogeochemical cycle. These human impacts may have an independent effect on the ecosystem, but they also have the potential to cause cascading effects and promote subsequent stressors. Also, these impacts are not limited to a particular system or geographic location making research on their overall effects vital for management practices. For example, tropical reefs have been transitioning from coral to mixed communities dominated by macroalgae, motivating research on how macroalgae respond to anthropogenic stressors and interact with each other during these stressful events. Further, while eutrophication of coastal estuaries due to increased anthropogenic supplies of nutrients has been of critical global concern for decades, the potential for eutrophication to drive new stressors is a growing concern. To address these knowledge gaps, I investigated how human stressors impact two different and major coastal ecosystems known to be vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbances.

In chapter 1, I demonstrate that anthropogenic stressors in the form of increased nutrients in the water and sediments have strong impacts on interspecific interactions of coral reef macroalgae. Abiotic stressors such as nutrients have been linked to phase-shifts from coral to algal domination on tropical reefs. However, few studies have considered how these stressors impact changes in the biotic and abiotic constituents of dominant species of calcifying macroalgae, and how this may be mediated by species-species interactions. I conducted 4 mesocosm experiments to examine whether different nutrient sources (water column vs. terrestrial sediment) as well as species interactions (alone vs. mixed species) affected total mass (biomass + calcium carbonate (CaCO3)) of two common calcifying macroalgae (Padina boryana and Galaxaura fasciculata). P. boryana gained total mass with increased water column nutrients but declined with increased nutrients supplied by the sediment. Conversely, G. fasciculata gained total mass with increased nutrients in the sediment but declined with increased water column nutrients. In both interactions, the “winner” (i.e., G. fasciculata in the sediment experiment) also had a greater % of thallus mass comprised of CaCO3, potentially due to the subsequent decomposition of the “loser” as this result was not found in the alone treatments. These findings ultimately suggest that nutrient stressors can cause cascading effects, such as promoting calcification and biomass growth or loss in these macroalgal communities, and the potential for domination or decline is based on the nutrient source and community composition.

In chapter 2, I demonstrate that decomposition of macroalgal blooms cause a sequence of biogeochemical processes that can drive acidification in shallow coastal estuaries, and that these processes are mediated by a dynamic microbial community. Eutrophication and ocean acidification are both widely acknowledged as major human-induced stressors in marine environments. While the link between eutrophication and acidification has been established for phytoplankton, it is unclear whether eutrophication in the form of macroalgal blooms can cause cascading effects like acidification in shallow eutrophic estuaries. I conducted seasonal field surveys and assessed microbial communities and functional genes to evaluate changes in biotic and abiotic characteristics between seasons that may be associated with acidification in Upper Newport Bay, CA, USA. Acidification, measured as a drop in pH of 0.7, occurred in summer at the site with the most macroalgal cover. Microbial community composition and functional gene expression provide evidence that decomposition processes contributed to acidification, and also suggest that other biogeochemical processes like nitrification and degradation of polyphosphate also contributed to acidification. To my knowledge, my findings represent the first field evidence that eutrophication of shallow coastal estuaries dominated by green macroalgal blooms can cascade to acidification.

In chapter 3, I demonstrate that macroalgal blooms in shallow estuaries are strong drivers of key microbially-mediated biogeochemical processes that can cause cascading effects, such as acidification and nutrient fluxing, regardless of simulated tidal flushing. Estuaries are productive and diverse ecosystems and are vulnerable to eutrophication from increased anthropogenic nutrients. While it is known that enhanced tidal flushing can reduce adverse effects of anthropogenic disturbances in larger, deeper estuarine ecosystems, this is unexplored for eutrophication in shallow coastal estuaries where macroalgae usually dominate. I simulated eutrophication as a macroalgal bloom in a mesocosm experiment, varied tidal flushing (flushed daily vs unflushed), and assessed the effects on water column and sediment biogeochemical processes and the sediment microbial community. While flushing did not ameliorate the negative effects of the macroalgal bloom, it caused transient differences in the rate of change in biogeochemical processes and promoted increased fluxes of nutrients from the sediment. In the beginning, the macroalgal bloom induced basification and increased total alkalinity, but during decomposition, acidification and the accumulation of nutrients in the sediment and water column occurred. The findings from this chapter ultimately suggest that macroalgal blooms have the potential to be the cause of, yet may also offer a partial solution to, global ecological changes to biogeochemical processes.

Overall, my results indicate that anthropogenic disturbances, particularly in the form of increased nutrients, can cause cascading effects like macroalgal blooms that in turn cause acidification, basification, increased interspecific interactions, nutrient depletion, and nutrient fluxing in multiple ecosystems. These data advance our current understanding of the ecological consequences of eutrophication in the form of macroalgal blooms in different ecosystems. It also provides mechanistic links to microbial communities and biogeochemical processes not previously identified for shallow coastal estuaries. As human population and subsequent nutrient pollution increases in watersheds globally, ecological phenomenon such as eutrophication will only be intensified, and macroalgal communities will continue to dominate. Consequently, this dominance, especially during decomposition as shown here, can drive a multitude of subsequent stressors that can impact the entire ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Nutrient enrichment promotes eutrophication in the form of macroalgal blooms causing cascading effects in two anthropogenically disturbed coastal ecosystems’

Carbonates dissolution and precipitation in hemipelagic sediments overlaid by supersaturated bottom-waters – Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

Whether CaCO3 dissolves within the top centimeters of marine sediments overlaid by deep, supersaturated bottom waters remains an area of debate in geochemistry. This uncertainty stems from the fact that different methods used to assess CaCO3 dissolution rates often provide what appear to be profoundly different results. Here we combine microelectrode and porewater chemistry profiles, core incubation experiments, mineral characterizations and observations of the state of preservation of coccolithophorid exoskeletons for a holistic view of carbonate reactions within the top 30 centimeters of hemipelagic sediments from the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. Calculations based on pH and O2 microelectrode data suggest that rapid metabolic dissolution of carbonate minerals occurs in these sediments within the top two millimeters. Porewater chemistry supports these calculations. The porewater-based observations are further supported by sedimentological characteristics such as aragonite content, and dissolution pitting and fragmentation of coccoliths in sediment layers deposited over the last 200 y. Dissolution appears to be occurring today within surface sediments despite the bulk porewater solution being supersaturated with respect to aragonite and Mg-calcite. In spite of intense dissolution within the sediments, there is no evidence for significant alkalinity and/or calcium fluxes (transport) into bottom waters. It appears that the supersaturated bottom water promotes the removal of all excess alkalinity and calcium produced within the sediment, by CaCO3 precipitation at or above the sediment/ bottom water interface. The precipitation mechanism may be by either benthic organisms (biogenic precipitation) or inorganically (direct precipitation on settling CaCO3 grains). We suggest that authigenic precipitation of (Ca,Mn)CO3 as it becomes supersaturated below 3 cm in the sediments can reconcile the evidence for carbonate dissolution in what appears to be supersaturated conditions. This means that MnCO3 replaces CaCO3 within the nanofossils below ∼3 cm, and that part of the manganese rich CaCO3 is bioturbated upwards into undersaturated conditions, facilitating dissolution of these fossils. Diminished calcite and aragonite concentrations in sediments deposited in recent decades are proposed to be a result of increased manganese cycling rates and greater rates of coupled dissolution within the interfacial sediments, possibly combined with diminished calcareous plankton productivity, in response to increased surface water primary productivity.

Continue reading ‘Carbonates dissolution and precipitation in hemipelagic sediments overlaid by supersaturated bottom-waters – Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea’


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