Posts Tagged 'South Atlantic'

Transcriptomic responses of adult versus juvenile Atlantids to ocean acidification

Shelled holoplanktonic gastropods are among the most vulnerable calcifiers to ocean acidification. They inhabit the pelagic environment and build thin and transparent shells of aragonite, a metastable form of calcium carbonate. While shelled pteropods have received considerable attention and are widely regarded as bioindicators of ocean acidification, atlantids have been much less studied. In the open ocean, atlantids are uniquely positioned to address the effects of ocean acidification at distinct trophic levels. From juvenile to adult, they undergo dramatic metamorphosis. As adults they are predatory, feeding primarily on shelled pteropods, copepods and other zooplankton, while as juveniles they feed on algae. Here we investigated the transcriptome and the impact of a three-day CO2 exposure on the gene expression of adults of the atlantid Atlanta ariejansseni and compared these to results previously obtained from juveniles. Individuals were sampled in the Southern Subtropical Convergence Zone (Atlantic Ocean) and exposed to ocean chemistry simulating past (~mid-1960s), present (ambient) and future (2050) conditions. In adults we found that the changes in seawater chemistry had significantly affected the expression of genes involved in biomineralization and the immune response, although there were no significant differences in shell growth between the three conditions. In contrast, juveniles experienced substantial changes in shell growth and a broader transcriptomic response. In adults, 1170 genes had the same direction of expression in the past and future treatments when compared to the ambient. Overall, this type of response was more common in adults (8.6% of all the genes) than in juveniles (3.9%), whereas a linear response with decreasing pH was more common in juveniles (7.7%) than in adults (4.5%). Taken together, these results suggest that juveniles are more sensitive to increased acidification than adults. However, experimental limitations including short incubation times, one carboy used for each treatment and two replicates for transcriptome analysis, require us to be cautious about these conclusions. We show that distinct transcriptome profiles characterize the two life stages, with less than 50% of shared transcripts. This study provides an initial framework to understand how ocean acidification may affect the molecular and calcification responses of adult and juvenile atlantids.

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Predicted changes in temperature, more than acidification, affect the shell morphology and survival of the girdled dogwhelk, Trochia cingulata (Linnaeus, 1771)

Despite the existing body of research that considers altered ocean temperature and acidification as co-occurring stressors, our understanding of the consequences of such shifts remains limited. This is particularly problematic in relation to predators such as whelks, as they can exert strong top-down control of communities yet, as calcifying ectotherms, they are likely to be vulnerable to climate change. This study assessed the effects of simultaneous changes in water temperature and pH on the South African girdled dogwhelk Trochia cingulata. For 12 weeks, whelks were exposed to three temperatures, 9 °C (cooling), 13 °C (current) and 17 °C (warming), each at three target pH levels, 8.0 (current), 7.7 (intermediate) and 7.5 (extreme). For each treatment shell thickness, strength and shape were measured after 6 and 12 weeks, while mortality was recorded daily. Survival was not affected by pH and was highest at 9 °C. Almost all whelks exposed to warming died within 2 weeks. After 6 weeks, shell strength declined significantly as acidity increased, regardless of temperature, and shells of whelks held at 9 °C were thinner. By 12 weeks, whelks exposed to cooling and extreme pH had the weakest shells. Notably, temperature no longer influenced shell thickness, but whelks held at 9 °C became globular in shape. These changes in shell morphology likely resulted from the increased cost of shell maintenance in cool, acidic conditions. The differences observed at 6 and 12 weeks demonstrate how responses can change over time, a point that should be kept in mind when assessing species sensitivities to changing environments. The dominant effect of temperature highlights that T. cingulata is particularly vulnerable to warming, while regional cooling may pose a challenge with respect to shell morphology.

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Mangrove macroalgae increase their growth under ocean acidification: a study with Bostrychia (Rhodophyta) haplotypes from different biogeographic provinces

Increasing oceanic CO2 has caused a decrease in oceanic pH, a process termed ocean acidification (OA). OA may benefit fleshy macroalgae due to the increased availability of inorganic carbon sources for photosynthesis since they are tolerant of decreases in pH. In this study, we analyzed multiple physiological responses of Bostrychia montagnei and Bostrychia calliptera from two biogeographic provinces of Brazil (Tropical Southwestern Atlantic [TSA] and Warm Temperate Southwestern Atlantic [WTSA]) after culturing them at a set of bioreactors in three pH levels (7.2, 7.6, and 8.0). Two pH were decreased by CO2 enrichment into the culture medium. Molecular analyses using plastidial (rbcL-3P) and mitochondrial (COI-5P) DNA markers were also performed to identify genetic divergences between macroalgae from TSA and WTSA. Molecular evidence of COI-5P marker demonstrated that the specimens of both B. montagnei and B. calliptera from TSA and WTSA constitute different haplotypes, with a strong segregation between them. Macroalgae from both localities increased their growth in treatments of decreased pH with increased CO2 availability. Overall, physiological responses of the algae were not negatively affected by decreased pH. B. montagnei from TSA increased its polysaccharide and allophycocyanin content at pH 7.2, and B. montagnei from WTSA increased its low molecular weight carbohydrate content at pH 7.2 as well. Antioxidant activity — a proxy for physiological stress — was not affected by decreased pH. Our study indicates that haplotypes of B. montagnei and B. calliptera from TSA and WTSA can be relevant to CO2 sequestration in mangroves once they are tolerant of decreased pH and increase their growth under increased CO2 availability.

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Coastal ocean acidification in Brazil: a brief overview and perspectives

This perspective paper aims at presenting the current knowledge on the processes of ocean acidification (OA) and coastal acidification (CA) in the Brazilian coastal ocean. We define and differentiate the processes of OA and CA: the first driven by the actual global increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2); the second driven by a combination of ocean uptake of atmospheric CO2 and other local/regional chemical additions or subtractions in aquatic ecosystems at the land-ocean interface. Regarding OA, we have centered our analysis on the data available for the main water masses along the Brazilian coast: South Atlantic Central Water (SACW), Tropical Water (TW), and Coastal Water (CW). The few data available for the shallow coastal waters (< 200 m depth) of the continental shelf reveal an increase in the anthropogenic component of the total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool in the SACW, with a decline in the ocean pH (over two decades; 1993-2013), and in the saturation state of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) minerals. We could not find OA trends for TW and CW because no data was available. Overall, the colder water masses (SACW, Plata Plume) have lower buffering capacity and simulations show that will potentially experience earlier negative OA impacts than the warmer waters masses (TW, Amazon Plume). Regarding CA, we have identified some local/regional studies investigating the carbonate chemistry in nearshore/estuarine ecosystems, particularly on the quantification of sources and sinks of CO2 , and determining short-term variabilities. Apparently, spreading coastal eutrophication in Brazil can enhances or reduces the process of OA, depending on the net ecosystem metabolism in combination with other chemical alterations. However, we could not find medium-long term acidification trends due to the limited data. There is a limited capacity to produce long time-series of carbonate chemistry parameters in key ecosystems and regions along the Brazilian coast. This lack of past information hinders and impairs the scientific community for identifying potential patterns of acidification along the Brazilian coast. We call for an urgent action in Brazil, with emphasis on the establishment of moored buoys/stations and/or scientific programs in the long term with continuous, real-time measurements of the main carbonate chemistry parameters.

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The contribution of nutrients and water properties to the carbonate system in three particular areas of the tropical Atlantic (NE-Brazil)

Tropical waters show different regional aspects due to specificities in their nutrient biogeochemical cycles, which can affect the carbon system and influence their regional role as sinks or sources of CO2. This study was performed on particular tropical areas that present a different seasonal behaviour related to the carbon cycle observed in the late rainy season (July 2013). Understanding the CO2 drawdown and outgassing potential in these areas is needed to call attention to more long-term monitoring efforts and protect understudied tropical coastal systems more efficiently. This study is focused on nutrient values, hydrological data, biogeochemical carbon behaviour linked to the carbonate system and includes estimates of CO2 fluxes in three contrasting areas off the northeastern Brazilian shelf: 1) an urbanised estuary (Recife-REC), 2) a coastal Island (Itamaracá-ITA) and 3) an oceanic archipelago (Fernando de Noronha-FN). In general, REC acted as a source, while ITA and FN as carbon sinks. In ITA, despite the high DIC and Total Alkalinity observed (mean ~2360 μmol·kg-1), the sink is associated with an effective cascading of atmospheric CO2 associated with turbulent shallow waters coupled with biogenic removal of and precipitation of CaCO3 by coralline algae. FN acted as a sink, linked to minor decreases in Total Alkalinity (mean~2295 μmol·kg-1) influenced by ammonium-based primary production, nitrogen fixation and sporadic entrainment of nutrient rich waters in the upper thermocline. More studies in different western tropical Atlantic coastal systems can improve the knowledge of tropical shelf seas and their contribution to the ocean carbon budget under specific regional trophic regimes.

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A seamless ensemble-based reconstruction of surface ocean pCO2 and air–sea CO2 fluxes over the global coastal and open oceans

We have estimated global air–sea CO2 fluxes (fgCO2) from the open ocean to coastal seas. Fluxes and associated uncertainty are computed from an ensemble-based reconstruction of CO2 sea surface partial pressure (pCO2) maps trained with gridded data from the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas v2020 database. The ensemble mean (which is the best estimate provided by the approach) fits independent data well, and a broad agreement between the spatial distribution of model–data differences and the ensemble standard deviation (which is our model uncertainty estimate) is seen. Ensemble-based uncertainty estimates are denoted by ±1σ. The space–time-varying uncertainty fields identify oceanic regions where improvements in data reconstruction and extensions of the observational network are needed. Poor reconstructions of pCO2 are primarily found over the coasts and/or in regions with sparse observations, while fgCO2 estimates with the largest uncertainty are observed over the open Southern Ocean (44 S southward), the subpolar regions, the Indian Ocean gyre, and upwelling systems.

Our estimate of the global net sink for the period 1985–2019 is 1.643±0.125 PgC yr−1 including 0.150±0.010 PgC yr−1 for the coastal net sink. Among the ocean basins, the Subtropical Pacific (18–49 N) and the Subpolar Atlantic (49–76 N) appear to be the strongest CO2 sinks for the open ocean and the coastal ocean, respectively. Based on mean flux density per unit area, the most intense CO2 drawdown is, however, observed over the Arctic (76 N poleward) followed by the Subpolar Atlantic and Subtropical Pacific for both open-ocean and coastal sectors. Reconstruction results also show significant changes in the global annual integral of all open- and coastal-ocean CO2 fluxes with a growth rate of  PgC yr−2 and a temporal standard deviation of 0.526±0.022 PgC yr−1 over the 35-year period. The link between the large interannual to multi-year variations of the global net sink and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation climate variability is reconfirmed.

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Upper environmental pCO2 drives sensitivity to ocean acidification in marine invertebrates

Minimizing the impact of ocean acidification requires an understanding of species responses and environmental variability of population habitats. Whereas the literature is growing rapidly, emerging results suggest unresolved species- or population-specific responses. Here we present a meta-analysis synthesizing experimental studies examining the effects of pCO2 on biological traits in marine invertebrates. At the sampling locations of experimental animals, we determined environmental pCO2 conditions by integrating data from global databases and pCO2 measurements from buoys. Experimental pCO2 scenarios were compared with upper pCO2 using an index considering the upper environmental pCO2. For most taxa, a statistically significant negative linear relationship was observed between this index and mean biological responses, indicating that the impact of a given experimental pCO2 scenario depends on the deviation from the upper pCO2 level experienced by local populations. Our results highlight the importance of local biological adaptation and the need to consider present pCO2 natural variability while interpreting experimental results.

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Derivation of seawater pCO2 from net community production identifies the South Atlantic Ocean as a CO2 source

A key step in assessing the global carbon budget is the determination of the partial pressure of CO2 in seawater (pCO2 (sw)). Spatially complete observational fields of pCO2 (sw) are routinely produced for regional and global ocean carbon budget assessments by extrapolating sparse in situ measurements of pCO2 (sw) using satellite observations. As part of this process, satellite chlorophyll a (Chl a) is often used as a proxy for the biological drawdown or release of CO2. Chl a does not, however, quantify carbon fixed through photosynthesis and then respired, which is determined by net community production (NCP).

In this study, pCO2 (sw) over the South Atlantic Ocean is estimated using a feed forward neural network (FNN) scheme and either satellite-derived NCP, net primary production (NPP) or Chl a to compare which biological proxy produces the most accurate fields of pCO2 (sw). Estimates of pCO2 (sw) using NCP, NPP or Chl a were similar, but NCP was more accurate for the Amazon Plume and upwelling regions, which were not fully reproduced when using Chl a or NPP. A perturbation analysis assessed the potential maximum reduction in pCO2 (sw) uncertainties that could be achieved by reducing the uncertainties in the satellite biological parameters. This illustrated further improvement using NCP compared to NPP or Chl a. Using NCP to estimate pCO2 (sw) showed that the South Atlantic Ocean is a CO2 source, whereas if no biological parameters are used in the FNN (following existing annual carbon assessments), this region appears to be a sink for CO2. These results highlight that using NCP improved the accuracy of estimating pCO2 (sw) and changes the South Atlantic Ocean from a CO2 sink to a source. Reducing the uncertainties in NCP derived from satellite parameters will ultimately improve our understanding and confidence in quantification of the global ocean as a CO2 sink.

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Does pH variation influence the toxicity of organic contaminants in estuarine sediments? Effects of Irgarol on nematode assemblages


  • Effects of acidification on the Irgarol toxicity to a benthic community was assessed.
  • Lower nematode diversity was observed at the highest Irgarol concentration.
  • Estuarine nematode assemblage was impacted by continuous exposure to low pHs.
  • Toxicity of Irgarol was independent of pH variation.


Natural pH values in coastal waters vary largely among locations, ecosystems, and time periods; still, there is an ongoing acidification trend. In this scenario, more acidic pH values can alter bioavailability of organic contaminants, to organisms. Despite this, interactive effects between pH and chemical substances are not usually considered in Ecological Risk Assessment protocols. This study investigated the effects of pH on the toxicity of a hydrophobic organic compound on a benthic community using a microcosm experiment setup to assess the response of nematode assemblages exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of Irgarol at two natural pH conditions. Estuarine nematode assemblages were exposed to two concentrations of Irgarol at pH 7.0 and 8.0 for periods of 7 and 35 days. Lower diversity of nematode genera was observed at the highest tested Irgarol concentration (1281 ± 65 ng.g−1). The results showed that the effects of Irgarol contamination were independent of pH variation, indicating no influence of acidification within this range on the toxicity of Irgarol to benthic meiofauna. However, the results showed that estuarine nematode assemblages are impacted by long-term exposure to low (but naturally occurring) pHs. This indicates that estuarine organisms may be under naturally high physiological pressure and that permanent changes in the ecosystem’s environmental factors, such as future coastal ocean acidification, may drive organisms closer to the edges of their tolerance windows.

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Integrative assessment of sediments affected by CO2 enrichment: a case study in the Bay of Santos—SP, Brazil

CO2 enrichment in the marine environment caused by leakages from carbon capture and storage technologies may occur over operational procedures. An integrated approach using weight-of-evidence was applied to assess the environmental risk associated with the acidification caused by CO2 enrichment in coastal sediments from Santos (Brazil). Chemical analyses (metal(loid)s and organic contaminant (e.g., hydrocarbons), toxicity tests (amphipods mortality, sea-urchin embryo-larval development) and macro-benthic community structure alteration assessment were performed with different acidified scenarios (pH 8.0–6.0) for two stations with different contamination degrees. These lines of evidence were statistically analyzed and integrated (multivariate analysis and ANOVA). Results of toxicity showed significant chronic effects starting at pH 7.0 while acute effects were observed starting at pH 6.5. The macro-benthic community integrity showed significant differences for all treatments at the Piaçaguera channel station, considered to be moderately contaminated. Results from the multivariate analysis correlated toxic effects and increase in the mobility of some elements with acidification. Also, the biological indexes were correlated with concentrations of dissolved Zn in seawater. The pH of 6.0 was extremely toxic for marine life due to its high acidification and metal bioavailability. The approach herein identified and discriminated the origin of the degradation caused by the acidification related to the enrichment of CO2.

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Risk-induced trait response in planktonic larvae is altered under an acidified scenario


  • Conspecific and potential predator odours, but not all, induced tail flicking behavior
  • Low pH disrupted the risk-induced trait response to a potential predator
  • Chemosensation and the predator-prey interaction was affected by acidification


Our changing climate is affecting predator-prey interactions in different ways. Increasing atmospheric CO2 is acidifying the ocean and disrupting the chemosensation of several species. Here, we evaluated a risk-induced trait response to a potential predator under an acidified scenario. Using planktonic crab larvae as a prey model, we first verified their swimming avoidance response to different potential fish predators and conspecific odours. Prey intensified their avoidance response to conspecific and predator odours, but not to all predators, with no maternal effect. Then, larvae were exposed to a responsive predator odour under a predicted acidified scenario. A similar response was observed for both saltwater and predator odour under low pH conditions. Thus, acidification seems to affect the chemosensation of planktonic larvae, leading them to not distinguish between a non-harmful stimulus and a potential predator.

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Climate change scenarios of increased CO2 and temperature affect a coral reef peracarid (Crustacea) community


  • Ocean warming and acidification negatively impact Peracarida on coral reefs.
  • Peracarida exhibits divergent responses patterns to impacts of climate change.
  • Peracarida community can be used as a reliable bioindicator of climate change.


The effects of applying scenarios of increasing CO2 and temperature, using a mesocosm experiment, on the structure of a macrofaunal coral reef peracarid community were investigated for the first time. Samples were taken from artificial substrate units (ASUs), colonized by macrofauna from the coral reef subtidal zone of Serrambi beach (Brazil). In the laboratory, the ASUs were exposed to a Control (Ctrl) treatment and three climate change Scenarios (Sc) (increase of Tº of 0.6, 2, and 3 °C, and pH drop of 0.1, 0.3, and 0.7 units for Sc I, II and III respectively), and were collected after 15 and 29 days of exposure. Our results showed that the effect of different temperature and acidity levels under experimental climate change scenarios significantly impacted density, diversity and community structure. Major differences were observed when applying Sc II and III. Peracarida also showed a reduction in specimen number when comparing both exposure times. Overall, Amphipoda, Tanaidacea and Isopoda communities all displayed a reduction in the number of individuals for both scenarios and exposure time factors, while Cumacea responded negatively in all scenarios, suggesting that these individuals were more sensitive to the experimental conditions. Dissimilarities were greatest between the Ctrl and Sc III, particularly after 29 days. Two species, Elasmopus longipropodus (Amphipoda) and Chondrochelia dubia (Tanaidacea), greatly contributed to these dissimilarities. This study demonstrates that even an intermediate level of increasing ocean temperature and acidification will negatively impact the structure of the Peracarida macrofaunal community on coral reefs. Also demonstrates that different species of Peracarida exhibit divergent response patterns, highlighting the specific responses of these taxa to the impacts of environmental stressors. These outcomes highlight the importance of studying the effects of climate change on benthic peracarids, especially because they incubate their eggs. This characteristic can reduce migration potential and thereby reduces the individual’s ability to disperse in response to a changing environment.

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Biological effects of the antihypertensive losartan under different ocean acidification scenarios


  • Losartan was quantified in samples of marine water (up to 7.63 ng/L) and sediment (up to 3.10 ng/g).
  • Sediment spiked with an environmental concentration of losartan affected lysosomal stability.
  • Losartan effects were pH dependent and pH effects were dependent on the concentration of losartan.
  • Ocean acidification exacerbates the negative effects of losartan in waterborne exposure.


Since the last decade, several studies have reported the presence and effects of pharmaceutical residues in the marine environment, especially those of the antihypertensive class, such as losartan. However, there is little knowledge about the physiological effects of losartan in marine invertebrates regarding its behavior under possible coastal ocean acidification scenarios. The objective of this study was to evaluate biological effects on marine organisms at different levels of the biological organization caused by the compound losartan in water and sediment under coastal ocean acidification scenarios. Water and sediment samples were collected at five sites around the Santos Submarine Sewage outfall (SSO) and two sites around the Guarujá Submarine Sewage Outfall (GSO). Losartan was found in concentrations ranging from <LOD to 7.63 ng/L in water and from <LOQ to 3.10 ng/g in sediments. Statistical analysis showed interactive effects pH and losartan on the toxicity results. The water toxicity test with Echinometra lucunter embryos/larvae showed LOECs 50–100 mg/L, with values decreasing as the pH decreased. In the sediment assays, LOEC value for sea urchin embryo-larval development was 1.0 μg/g for all tested pHs. Regarding the lysosomal membrane stability assays with adult bivalves, a LOEC of 3000 ng/L was found for Perna perna in water exposure (both at pH 8.0 and 7.6). Effects for Mytella guyanensis were observed at environmentally relevant concentrations in sediment (LOEC = 3 ng/g at pH 8.0 and 7.6). This study demonstrated that coastal ocean acidification by itself causes effects on marine invertebrates, but can also increase the negative effects of losartan in waterborne exposure. There is a need to deepen the studies on the ecotoxicity of pharmaceutical residues and acidification of the marine environment.

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pH variability in catchment flows to estuaries – a South African perspective


  • Catchment geology was found to be the dominant driver of pH in river inflow.
  • Catchment vegetation/anthropogenic pressures act as modifiers to ambient pH.
  • Trends in inter-annual variability were linked to anthropogenic pressures.
  • Relationship between pH and flow was present in systems with rainfall seasonality.
  • Highlights the potential effects of upstream catchment practices on downstream.


River inflow plays an integral role on the water quality characteristics of estuaries, including pH. This study aimed to investigate pH variability in river inflow to South African estuaries and how these might be influenced by catchment characteristics. Specifically, three hypotheses were tested: 1) catchment geology is a dominant influencing factor of pH in river inflow, 2) catchment vegetation and anthropogenic pressures, e.g., urban and agriculture, act as modifiers of geology-driven ambient pH, and 3) seasonality in river flow rates can alter pH levels (e.g., pH decreasing during periods of high flow). First, drivers of pH variability were explored in relation to electrical conductivity, total alkalinity, and catchment geology type, as well as vegetation and key anthropogenic pressures. Thereafter, temporal variability was evaluated considering both inter-annual and seasonal variability also including variability in flow rates. Values of pH displayed an exponential relationship with electrical conductivity and total alkalinity, and as hypothesised pH variability was primarily influenced by catchment geology. Results also indicated that catchment vegetation (e.g., peatlands and fynbos) and/or anthropogenic pressures (e.g., urban and agriculture) act as modifiers causing pH to deviate from geology-driven ambient equilibria, especially in Table Mountain Group sandstone-dominated systems. Only limited trends in inter-annual variability were observed, mostly linked to increases in pH with increases in anthropogenic pressures. Further, a significant inverse relationship between pH and river flows was present, mostly in systems showing marked seasonality in rainfall. This study adds to our understanding of the variability of pH in river inflows to estuaries, and highlights some of the key influencing factors. Indeed, results suggest that anthropogenic pressures in catchments potentially are leading to alkalinisation of river inflow, contrary to the potential effect of ocean acidification. Finally, this study highlights the ripple effects of upstream catchment practices on downstream coastal ecosystems such as estuaries, emphasising the need for integrated catchment-to-coast management.

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Eutrophication overcoming carbonate precipitation in a tropical hypersaline coastal lagoon acting as a CO2 sink (Araruama Lagoon, SE Brazil)

The carbonate chemistry was investigated in the semiarid eutrophic Araruama Lagoon (Brazil), one of the largest hypersaline coastal lagoons in the world. Spatial surveys during winter and summer periods were performed, in addition to a diurnal sampling in summer. The hypersaline waters have higher concentrations of total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) than the seawater that feed the lagoon, due to evaporation. However, TA and DIC concentrations were lower than those expected from evaporation. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) precipitation partially explained these deficits. The negative correlation between the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and chlorophyll a (Chl a) indicated that DIC was also consumed by primary producers. The uptake by photosynthesis contributes to 57–63% of DIC deviation from evaporation, the remaining credited to CaCO3 precipitation. Marked pCO2 undersaturation was prevalent at the innermost region with shallow, confined, and phytoplankton-dominated waters, with a strong enrichment of heavier carbon isotope (δ13C-DIC up to 5.55%), and highest pH (locally counter-acting the process of ocean acidification). Oversaturation was restricted to an urbanized region, and during night-time. The lagoon behaved as a marked CO2 sink during winter (− 15.32 to − 10.15 mmolC m−2 day−1), a moderate sink during summer (− 5.50 to − 4.67 mmolC m−2 day−1), with a net community production (NCP) of 93.7 mmolC m−2 day−1 and prevalence of net autotrophic metabolism. A decoupling between CO2 and O2 exchange rate at the air–water interface was attributed to differences in gas solubility, and high buffering capacity. The carbonate chemistry reveals simultaneous and antagonistic actions of CaCO3 precipitation and autotrophic metabolism on CO2 fluxes, and could reflect future conditions in populated and semiarid coastal ecosystems worldwide.

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A proteomic analysis of the effect of ocean acidification on the haemocyte proteome of the South African abalone Haliotis midae


  • 227 proteins were differentially expressed in response to ocean acidification conditions.
  • Under OA conditions, H. midae underwent a metabolic shift to generate ATP via energy-efficient mechanisms.
  • Haemocyte stabilisation and homeostasis in response to OA was reflected by up-regulation of oxidative stress and cytoskeletal proteins.
  • An interplay between the stress and immune response was observed through up-regulation of proteins involved in protein synthesis and turnover, as well as intracellular signalling and transport.


As a result of increasing CO2 emissions and the prevalence of global climate change, ocean acidification (OA) is becoming more pervasive, affecting many trophic levels, particularly those that rely on succinctly balanced ocean chemistry. This ultimately threatens community structures, as well as the future sustainability of the fishing/aquaculture industry. Understanding the molecular stress response of key organisms will aid in predicting their future survivability under changing environmental conditions. This study sought to elucidate the molecular stress response of the South African abalone, Haliotis midae, an understudied organism with high economic value, utilising a high throughput iTRAQ-based proteomics methodology. Adult abalone were exposed to control (pH 7.9) and experimental (pH 7.5) conditions for 12, 72 and 168 h, following which protein was isolated from sampled haemocytes and subsequently processed. iTRAQ-labelled peptides were analysed using mass spectrometry, while an array of bioinformatics tools was utilised for analysing the proteomic data. COG analysis identified “Cytoskeleton”, “Translation, ribosomal structure and biogenesis”, “Post-translational modification, protein turnover, chaperones”, and “Intracellular trafficking, secretion and vesicular transport” to be the most enriched functional classes, while statistical analysis identified a total of 33 up-regulated and 23 down-regulated effectors of OA stress in abalone. Several of the up-regulated proteins that were identified function in central metabolism (ENO1, PGK, DUOX1, GPD2), the stress/immune response (CAMKI, HSPA5/GRP78, MAPKI), and cytoskeleton, protein sorting and signal transduction (IQGAP1, MYO9B, TLN1, RDX, TCP-1/CCT, SNX6, CHMP1a, VPS13a). Protein-protein interactions were predicted using STRING DB, Cytoscape and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, providing a model of the effects of OA on the H. midae haemocyte proteome. The data indicated that H. midae underwent a metabolic shift under OA conditions to utilize more energy-efficient mechanisms of ATP generation, while attempts at restoring haemocyte stabilisation and homeostasis were reflected by up-regulation of oxidative stress and cytoskeletal proteins. Our results support other molluscan studies that report a complex array of overlapping functions of both the stress and immune response systems. This interplay of the mounted stress and immune response is maintained and observed through the up-regulation of proteins involved in protein synthesis and turnover, as well as intracellular signalling and transport. The data presented in this study highlight the value of employing sensitive and robust -omics technologies for assessing the effects of changing environmental conditions on marine organisms.

Continue reading ‘A proteomic analysis of the effect of ocean acidification on the haemocyte proteome of the South African abalone Haliotis midae’

Sea surface CO2 fugacity in the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean: an evaluation based on satellite-derived images

The South Atlantic Ocean is historically less sampled than the North Atlantic Ocean. Recent efforts have improved our understanding of the carbonate system variable distribution, mainly on sea surface CO2 fugacity (fCO2). However, these studies have been regionally and temporally restricted. Hence, in this research we developed seasonal algorithms of sea surface fCO2 to investigate the CO2 dynamics along the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean during spring-summer and fall-winter periods. The studied region includes the continental shelf areas of the Abrolhos-Campos Region (an area under the influence of central water upwelling), the South Brazil Bight (a large embayment affected by the mesoscale variability in a westward boundary current), the Southern Brazilian Shelf (a coastal zone influenced by freshwater discharge from continent and water mass entrainment), and offshore waters in the open ocean domain of the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean. Monthly satellite images of sea surface temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll-a, which were concomitantly available from August 2011 to June 2015, were used to reconstruct and evaluate the sea surface fCO2 seasonal field. The predicted fields of sea surface fCO2 enabled an investigation of the main drivers that change this variable over the distinct biogeochemical provinces in the region. As expected, the sea surface temperature was the main driver of seasonal changes in sea surface fCO2, but total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity changes were also relevant, mainly in the biogeochemical provinces under the influence of continental freshwater input or central water upwelling. The latter can play an unpredictable role in CO2 dynamics due to nutrient- and DIC-rich water transport close to the surface. Finally, the use of satellite-derived images is a powerful tool to increase biogeochemical knowledge of relatively undersampled ocean regions, while the development of seasonal sea surface fCO2 algorithms allows a better spatiotemporal comprehension of the CO2 distribution, dynamics, and drivers in the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean – a key region for improving the understanding of the global carbon cycle.

Continue reading ‘Sea surface CO2 fugacity in the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean: an evaluation based on satellite-derived images’

The impacts of past, present and future ocean chemistry on predatory planktonic snails

The atlantid heteropods represent the only predatory, aragonite shelled zooplankton. Atlantid shell production is likely to be sensitive to ocean acidification (OA), and yet we know little about their mechanisms of calcification, or their response to changing ocean chemistry. Here, we present the first study into calcification and gene expression effects of short-term OA exposure on juvenile atlantids across three pH scenarios: mid-1960s, ambient and 2050 conditions. Calcification and gene expression indicate a distinct response to each treatment. Shell extension and shell volume were reduced from the mid-1960s to ambient conditions, suggesting that calcification is already limited in today’s South Atlantic. However, shell extension increased from ambient to 2050 conditions. Genes involved in protein synthesis were consistently upregulated, whereas genes involved in organismal development were downregulated with decreasing pH. Biomineralization genes were upregulated in the mid-1960s and 2050 conditions, suggesting that any deviation from ambient carbonate chemistry causes stress, resulting in rapid shell growth. We conclude that atlantid calcification is likely to be negatively affected by future OA. However, we also found that plentiful food increased shell extension and shell thickness, and so synergistic factors are likely to impact the resilience of atlantids in an acidifying ocean.

Continue reading ‘The impacts of past, present and future ocean chemistry on predatory planktonic snails’

Efeitos biológicos da orfenadrina sob diferentes cenários de acidificação oceânica (in Portuguese)

O aumento das emissões de gás carbônico atmosférico proveniente de atividades antrópicas desde a Revolução Industrial teve como consequência uma maior participação de águas superficiais no processo de sequestro de dióxido de carbono, a fim de amenizar o efeito estufa. A principal consequência do aumento de captura de gás carbônico pelos oceanos é um fenômeno denominado acidificação oceânica. Alguns poluentes presentes na água, como por exemplo fármacos e produtos de cuidados pessoais (FPCPs) podem sofrer alterações na sua mobilidade e biodisponibilidade por conta da diminuição do pH do meio. Atualmente a quantidade de dados sobre os efeitos e o risco ambiental de FPCPs em organismos marinhos ainda é escassa. Diante deste cenário o presente estudo teve como objetivo analisar a ocorrência, o comportamento e a biodisponibilidade do fármaco orfenadrina frente a diferentes cenários de acidificação oceânica. O fármaco orfenadrina, empregado como relaxante muscular e amplamente consumido foi observado em todos os pontos de amostragem das áreas de influência dos emissários submarinos de Santos e Guarujá – SP, com concentrações que variaram LOQ a 0,5 ng/g em sedimentos. Os resultados do ensaio de toxicidade com água empregando ouriços do mar (Echinometra lucunter) nos diferentes pHs 8,0; 7,6; 7,3 apresentaram valores de CEO de 0,05mg/L e o EpH50 foi estabelecido em 7,30. Quanto aos ensaios com mexilhões Perna perna foram observados efeitos em concentrações ambientalmente relevantes, com CEO de 200 ng/g. Os resultados dos ensaios feitos para a avaliação do desenvolvimento embriolarval em água indicaram que tanto o processo de acidificação quanto o aumento da concentração afetam o desenvolvimento dos embriões de ouriço do mar. Já nos ensaios com P. perna foi possível verificar ainda que a presença do fármaco de caráter básico reduziu os efeitos da acidificação oceânica. Os resultados da análise de bioacumulação detectaram a presença da orfenadrina em todos os tecidos analisados. A análise dos ensaios de citotoxicidade nesta ocasião refutou a hipótese inicial do estudo, visto que a presença do fármaco de caráter básico reduziu os efeitos da acidificação oceânica. Neste sentido, fica evidente necessidade de se aprofundar os estudos sobre toxicologia relacionada a fármacos sob cenários de acidificação em ambiente marinho.

Continue reading ‘Efeitos biológicos da orfenadrina sob diferentes cenários de acidificação oceânica (in Portuguese)’

The sensitivity of the marine carbonate system to regional ocean alkalinity enhancement

Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) simultaneously mitigates atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and ocean acidification; however, no previous studies have investigated the response of the non-linear marine carbonate system sensitivity to alkalinity enhancement on regional scales. We hypothesise that regional implementations of OAE can sequester more atmospheric CO2 than a global implementation. To address this, we investigate physical regimes and alkalinity sensitivity as drivers of the carbon-uptake potential response to global and different regional simulations of OAE. In this idealised ocean-only set-up, total alkalinity is enhanced at a rate of 0.25 Pmol a-1 in 75-year simulations using the Max Planck Institute Ocean Model coupled to the HAMburg Ocean Carbon Cycle model with pre-industrial atmospheric forcing. Alkalinity is enhanced globally and in eight regions: the Subpolar and Subtropical Atlantic and Pacific gyres, the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean. This study reveals that regional alkalinity enhancement has the capacity to exceed carbon uptake by global OAE. We find that 82–175 Pg more carbon is sequestered into the ocean when alkalinity is enhanced regionally and 156 PgC when enhanced globally, compared with the background-state. The Southern Ocean application is most efficient, sequestering 12% more carbon than the Global experiment despite OAE being applied across a surface area 40 times smaller. For the first time, we find that different carbon-uptake potentials are driven by the surface pattern of total alkalinity redistributed by physical regimes across areas of different carbon-uptake efficiencies. We also show that, while the marine carbonate system becomes less sensitive to alkalinity enhancement in all experiments globally, regional responses to enhanced alkalinity vary depending upon the background concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity. Furthermore, the Subpolar North Atlantic displays a previously unexpected alkalinity sensitivity increase in response to high total alkalinity concentrations.

Continue reading ‘The sensitivity of the marine carbonate system to regional ocean alkalinity enhancement’

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