Posts Tagged 'vents'

Abundance and size structure of Patella spp. (Mollusca, Gastropoda) under ocean acidification conditions at CO2 vents (Ischia Island, Italy)

Abundance and size structure of Patella spp. were studied at Ischia Island (Tyrrhenian Sea) in two populations living at CO2 vents off Castello Aragonese, under natural ocean acidification (OA) conditions (pH 7.4-7.9), and three control populations in sites characterized by normal pH conditions (pH 8.1). Both CO2 vent populations had 95% of heavily corroded shells and significant lower abundances than control populations, while the size structure showed individuals of higher dimensions (>2 cm), fewer small specimens (0-1 cm) and lack of new recruits in the vent’s populations subjected to OA conditions. These results confirm that, although with low densities, limpets thrive under OA conditions, and exhibit larger sizes, than in control areas, but a reduced recruitment of juveniles. This fact suggests a habitat selection only by adult specimens likely more robust to OA then juveniles, and the potential influence of other indirect factors, such as the amount and quality of the plant food (higher N content), which seems higher under OA conditions, or a reduced predation, that can explain the larger limpet’s size.

Continue reading ‘Abundance and size structure of Patella spp. (Mollusca, Gastropoda) under ocean acidification conditions at CO2 vents (Ischia Island, Italy)’

High abundances of zooxanthellate zoantharians (Palythoa and Zoanthus) at multiple natural analogues: potential model anthozoans?

Whilst natural analogues for future ocean conditions such as CO2 seeps and enclosed lagoons in coral reef regions have received much recent research attention, most efforts in such locations have focused on the effects of prolonged high CO2 levels on scleractinian corals and fishes. Here, we demonstrate that the three species of zooxanthellate zoantharians, hexacorallian non-calcifying “cousins” of scleractinians, are common across five coral reef natural analogue sites with high CO2 levels in the western Pacific Ocean, in Japan (n = 2), Palau, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia (n = 1 each). These current observations support previously reported cases of high Palythoa and Zoanthus abundance and dominance on various impacted coral reefs worldwide. The results demonstrate the need for more research on the ecological roles of zooxanthellate zoantharians in coral reef systems, as well as examining other “understudied” taxa that may become increasingly important in the near future under climate change scenarios. Given their abundance in these sites combined with ease in sampling and non-CITES status, some zoantharian species should make excellent hexacoral models for examining potential resilience or resistance mechanisms of anthozoans to future high pCO2 conditions.

Continue reading ‘High abundances of zooxanthellate zoantharians (Palythoa and Zoanthus) at multiple natural analogues: potential model anthozoans?’

Volcanic-associated ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea: a systematic map and an interactive tool to support their conservation


Hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, pockmarks and seamounts are widely distributed on the ocean floor. Over the last fifty years, the knowledge about these volcanic-associated marine ecosystems has notably increased, yet available information is still limited, scattered, and unsuitable to support decision-making processes for the conservation and management of the marine environment.


Here we searched the Scopus database and the platform Web of Science to collect the scientific information available for these ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea. The collected literature and the bio-geographic and population variables extracted are provided into a systematic map as an online tool that includes an updated database searchable through a user-friendly R-shiny app.


The 433 literature items with almost one thousand observations provided evidence of more than 100 different volcanic-associated marine ecosystem sites, mostly distributed in the shallow waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Less than 30% of these sites are currently included in protected or regulated areas. The updated database available in the R-shiny app is a tool that could guide the implementation of more effective protection measures for volcanic-associated marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea within existing management instruments under the EU Habitats Directive. Moreover, the information provided in this study could aid policymakers in defining the priorities for the future protection measures needed to achieve the targets of the UN Agenda 2030.

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High taxonomic diversity and miniaturization in benthic communities under persistent natural CO2 disturbances

Metabarcoding techniques have revolutionized ecological research in recent years, facilitating the differentiation of cryptic species and revealing previously hidden diversity. In the current scenario of climate change and ocean acidification, biodiversity loss is one of the main threats to marine ecosystems. Here, we explored the effects of ocean acidification on marine benthic communities using DNA metabarcoding to assess the diversity of algae and metazoans. Specifically, we examined the natural pH gradient generated by the Fuencaliente CO2 vent system, located near La Palma Island (Canary Islands). High-resolution COI metabarcoding analyses revealed high levels of taxonomic diversity in an acidified natural area for the first time. This high number of species arises from the detection of small and cryptic species that were previously undetectable by other techniques. Such species are apparently tolerant to the acidification levels expected in future oceans. Hence and following our results, future subtropical communities are expected to keep high biodiversity values under an acidification scenario, although they will tend toward overall miniaturization due to the dominance of small algal and invertebrate species, leading to changes in ecosystem functions.


Electronic supplementary material is available online at

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Field development of Posidonia oceanica seedlings changes under predicted acidification conditions

Ocean acidification has been consistently evidenced to have profound and lasting impacts on marine species. Observations have shown seagrasses to be highly susceptible to future increased pCO2 conditions, but the responses of early life stages as seedlings are poorly understood. This study aimed at evaluating how projected Mediterranean Sea acidification affects the survival, morphological and biochemical development of Posidonia oceanica seedlings through a long-term field experiment along a natural low pH gradient. Future ocean conditions seem to constrain the morphological development of seedlings. However, high pCO2 exposures caused an initial increase in the degree of saturation of fatty acids in leaves and then improved the fatty acid adjustment increasing unsaturation levels in leaves (but not in seeds), suggesting a nutritional compound translocation. Results also suggested a P. oceanica structural components remodelling which may counteract the effects of ocean acidification but would not enhance seagrass seedling productivity.

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Ocean acidification stunts molluscan growth at CO2 seeps

Graphical abstract


  • Responses of molluscan growth to ocean acidification at CO2 seeps were studied.
  • Mussels near CO2 seeps grew significantly slower than those outside the seeps.
  • Mussels near and outside CO2 seeps exhibited differences in tissue carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures.
  • Geochemical analysis indicated chemical shifts at the calcifying front in mussels near and outside CO2 seeps.


Ocean acidification can severely affect bivalve molluscs, especially their shell calcification. Assessing the fate of this vulnerable group in a rapidly acidifying ocean is therefore a pressing challenge. Volcanic CO2 seeps are natural analogues of future ocean conditions that offer unique insights into the scope of marine bivalves to cope with acidification. Here, we used a 2-month reciprocal transplantation of the coastal mussel Septifer bilocularis collected from reference and elevated pCO2 habitats to explore how they calcify and grow at CO2 seeps on the Pacific coast of Japan. We found significant decreases in condition index (an indication of tissue energy reserves) and shell growth of mussels living under elevated pCO2 conditions. These negative responses in their physiological performance under acidified conditions were closely associated with changes in their food sources (shown by changes to the soft tissue δ13C and δ15N ratios) and changes in their calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry (based on shell carbonate isotopic and elemental signatures). The reduced shell growth rate during the transplantation experiment was further supported by shell δ13C records along their incremental growth layers, as well as their smaller shell size despite being of comparable ontogenetic ages (5–7 years old, based on shell δ18O records). Taken together, these findings demonstrate how ocean acidification at CO2 seeps affects mussel growth and reveal that lowered shell growth helps them survive stressful conditions.

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Thanks mum. Maternal effects in response to ocean acidification of sea urchin larvae at different ecologically relevant temperatures

Graphical abstract


  • Ocean acidification and temperature differently influence larval development of Arbacia lixula and Paracentrotus lividus.
  • Larvae of the two A. lixula populations (ambient-pH vs vent sites) respond differently to ocean acidification and temperature.
  • Maternal buffer effect was observed in response to ocean acidification and temperature in both species.
  • A. lixula seems to be more tolerant to changes in temperature than P. lividus.


Juvenile stages of marine species might be more vulnerable than adults to climate change, however larval vulnerability to predictable environmental changes can be mitigated by parental anticipatory buffer effects occurring during gametogenesis. In this study, ocean acidification effect were investigated on larval growth of two sea urchins, Arbacia lixula and Paracentrotus lividus, at different temperature levels. Results showed that altered pH and temperature affected larval development in both species, with significant length reductions of spicules and significant increases in abnormal larvae. Detrimental effects of reduced pH and high temperature were however dependent on the mother. Furthermore, the responses of A. lixula larvae from the ambient site (pH ∼ 8.0) were compared with those of larvae obtained from mothers collected from a natural CO2 vent (pH ∼ 7.7) in Ischia. Comparisons highlighted a transgenerational response, as the CO2 vent larvae proved to be more resilient to reduced pH, although more sensitive to increased temperature.

Continue reading ‘Thanks mum. Maternal effects in response to ocean acidification of sea urchin larvae at different ecologically relevant temperatures’

Acclimatization of a coral-dinoflagellate mutualism at a CO2 vent

Ocean acidification caused by shifts in ocean carbonate chemistry resulting from increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations is threatening many calcifying organisms, including corals. Here we assessed autotrophy vs heterotrophy shifts in the Mediterranean zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Balanophyllia europaea acclimatized to low pH/high pCO2 conditions at a CO2 vent off Panarea Island (Italy). Dinoflagellate endosymbiont densities were higher at lowest pH Sites where changes in the distribution of distinct haplotypes of a host-specific symbiont species, Philozoon balanophyllum, were observed. An increase in symbiont C/N ratios was observed at low pH, likely as a result of increased C fixation by higher symbiont cell densities. δ13C values of the symbionts and host tissue reached similar values at the lowest pH Site, suggesting an increased influence of autotrophy with increasing acidification. Host tissue δ15N values of 0‰ strongly suggest that diazotroph N2 fixation is occurring within the coral tissue/mucus at the low pH Sites, likely explaining the decrease in host tissue C/N ratios with acidification. Overall, our findings show an acclimatization of this coral-dinoflagellate mutualism through trophic adjustment and symbiont haplotype differences with increasing acidification, highlighting that some corals are capable of acclimatizing to ocean acidification predicted under end-of-century scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Acclimatization of a coral-dinoflagellate mutualism at a CO2 vent’

Investigation of the molecular mechanisms which contribute to the survival of the polychaete Platynereis spp. under ocean acidification conditions in the CO2 vent system of Ischia Island (Italy)

The continuous increase of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere due to anthropogenic activities is one of the most important factors that contribute to Climate Change and generates the phenomenon known as Ocean Acidification (OA). Research conducted at the CO2 vents of Castello Aragonese (Ischia, Italy), which represents a natural laboratory for the study of OA, demonstrated that some organisms, such as polychaetes, thrive under acidified conditions through different adaptation mechanisms. Some functional and ecological traits promoting tolerance to acidification in these organisms have been identified, while the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying acclimatisation or genetic adaptation are still largely unknown. Therefore, in this study we investigated epigenetic traits, as histone acetylation and methylation, in Platynereis spp. individuals coming from the Castello vent, and from a nearby control site, in two different periods of the year (November-June). Untargeted metabolomics analysis was also carried out in specimens from the two sites. We found a different profile of acetylation of H2B histone in the control site compared to the vent as a function of the sampling period. Metabolomic analysis showed clear separation in the pattern of metabolites in polychaetes from the control site with respect to those from the Castello vent. Specifically, a significant reduction of lipid/sterols and nucleosides was measured in polychaetes from the vent. Overall results contribute to better understand the potential metabolic pathways involved in the tolerance to OA.

Continue reading ‘Investigation of the molecular mechanisms which contribute to the survival of the polychaete Platynereis spp. under ocean acidification conditions in the CO2 vent system of Ischia Island (Italy)’

Can marine hydrothermal vents be used as natural laboratories to study global change effects on zooplankton in a future ocean?

It is claimed that oceanic hydrothermal vents (HVs), particularly the shallow water ones, offer particular advantages to better understand the effects of future climate and other global change on oceanic biota. Marine hydrothermal vents (HVs) are extreme oceanic environments that are similar to projected climate changes of the earth system ocean (e.g., changes of circulation patterns, elevated temperature, low pH, increased turbidity, increased bioavailability of toxic compounds. Studies on hydrothermal vent organisms may fill knowledge gaps of environmental and evolutionary adaptations to this extreme oceanic environment. In the present contribution we evaluate whether hydrothermal vents can be used as natural laboratories for a better understanding of zooplankton ecology under a global change scenario.

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Posidonia bonsai: dwarf Posidonia oceanica shoots associated to hydrothemal vent systems (Panarea Island, Italy)


  • Dwarf Posidonia oceanica (bonsai) observed in hydrothermal vents off Panarea.
  • Bonsai shoots are from 61–75% smaller in leaf biomass than regular-sized shoots
  • Bonsai shoots lacks the regular seasonal pattern in sheath thickness (lepidochronology) of normal-sized shoots


Very small-sized shoots of the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica, defined as “bonsai” shoots, were found in areas with most intense CO2 emissions and low pH associated with four vents systems off Panarea island (Aeolian Archipelago, Sicily, Southern Tyrrhenian Sea). Bonsai shoots were sampled in September 2021 and October 2022: Bottaro crater (8 m depth), Camp 7 (16 m and 21 m), Black Point (20 m) and Hot/Cold Points (10 m). They had 2–6 leaves, and adult-intermediate leaves were 5–21 cm long and 3.5–7 mm wide, with leaf shoot surface ranging 4.8 and 44.5 cm2, and shoot leaf biomass between 16 and 89 mg (d.w.). These values were all significantly lower (t-test p < 0.006–0.0001) than those measured in normal-sized shoots collected within the vents and in control sites not affected by gas emissions. Bonsai shoots had 86–89% lower leaf surface, and 61–75% lower leaf biomass than all normal-sized shoots measured. The sheath thickness of the bonsai shoots was very low (0.1–0.8 mm), and the temporal trend of sheath thickness along the rhizome (lepidochronology) showed an irregular pattern, without the clear cyclical seasonal variation typical of normal-sized shoots. The reasons of size reduction and lack of temporal cycle in lepidochronology are discussed in the light of plant acclimatization and the constraints imposed by the continuous exposure to the stressful conditions of seawater acidification and presence of phytotoxic gases (e.g. hydrogen sulfide) in the vents.

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Responses of corals and coral reef ecosystems to ocean acidification under variable temperature and light

Coral reefs are under increasing pressure from ocean acidification. However, much of our understanding is based on single-species aquarium experiments made in isolation from realistic environmental parameters (e.g. light, water flow, food supply) and other co occurring stressors (e.g. increasing sea surface temperatures, reduced water clarity due to terrestrial runoff). In my PhD project I aimed to understand how ocean acidification affects the ecophysiology of reef corals and reef communities in natural settings, and how effects may differ with concurrent exposure to variable temperature and light. I used a combination of experimental and observational studies at unique field sites with naturally high levels of CO2 (CO2 seep sites), and multi-factor experiments in the aquarium facilities of The Australian Institute of Marine Science’s National Sea Simulator to address these questions.

In chapter 2, I investigated if corals can acclimate to ocean acidification by switching their photosymbionts to types that may be able to utilise the more abundant CO2 in photosynthesis. I used molecular techniques to investigate the dominant photosymbiont types in six species of coral from the field and found them to be highly conserved within species between CO2 seep and control sites. In chapter 3, I used a combination of field surveys and a multifactor laboratory experiment to investigate if elevated CO2 increased the severity of coral thermal bleaching. Field surveys during a bleaching event at the CO2 seeps, as well as the experimental study, both showed that corals were not significantly more susceptible to thermal stress under high CO2. In chapter 4, I used a multifactor laboratory experiment to investigate if reduced or variable daily light availability affected the responses of corals to high CO2. Here I found that reductions in light levels, regardless of the variability in daily light integrals, can reduce coral growth rates more than high CO2. In chapter 5, I followed the development of early successional coral reef benthic communities on settlement tiles along a gradient of CO2 exposure at the seep sites, and further measured rates of community metabolism. Here high CO2 strongly influenced the development of communities, shifting them away from a dominance of calcifying taxa under present day conditions to a range of non-calcifying algae as CO2 levels increased. These high CO2 communities progressively recorded lower rates of calcification and higher rates of hotosynthesis at high CO2.

Results from this thesis show that the considerable changes to the CO2 seep benthic communities are likely due to secondary ecological effects, rather than the physiological effects on corals alone. Moreover, the negative effects of cooccurring stressors on corals and coral reefs will also be substantial. Hence there is an immediate need to reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions and improve the management of local stressors to prevent further declines to the health and functioning of coral reef ecosystems.

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Characteristics of calcium isotopes at different water depths and their palaeoenvironmental significance for carbonate rocks of the Permian-Triassic boundary in Chibi, southern China

Calcium isotopes of carbonate rocks can trace calcium cycles and record changes in the marine environment. As published calcium isotope profiles of carbonate rocks at the Permian-Triassic boundary are rare, comparative studies on deep-water profiles were lacking for the major extinction event that occurred during this time. We present sections of different water depths in the Chibi area of southern China that we have selected for a comparative study. We analyzed carbon isotopes, calcium isotopes, as well as major and trace elements of carbonates from two sections (Chibi North and Chibi West) to obtain information on the volcanic activity, ocean acidification, as well as sea level rise and fall in the Chibi area during the mass extinction period. All carbon and calcium isotopes of carbonates from both sections are all negative after the mass extinction boundary. Carbonates from the Chibi North section have higher δ44/40Ca values and lower Sr/Ca ratios than the rocks from the Chibi West section. We propose that the negative bias of the calcium isotopes in the two sections result from diagenesis. Diagenesis transforms primary aragonite into calcite, showing the characteristics of high δ44/40Ca value and low Sr/Ca. By comparing our data with three published profiles of shallow-water carbonate rock, we recognize that calcium isotopes record gradients at different water depths. In the slope environment, the enhancement of pore fluid action near the coast caused an increase of the fluid buffer alteration, and we propose that a regression event occurred in the Chibi region during the Late Permian.

Continue reading ‘Characteristics of calcium isotopes at different water depths and their palaeoenvironmental significance for carbonate rocks of the Permian-Triassic boundary in Chibi, southern China’

Characterization of undocumented CO2 hydrothermal vents in the Mediterranean Sea: implications for ocean acidification studies

In this paper, we present the first multidisciplinary description of an undocumented hydrothermal field located in Sicily (Southern Tyrrhenian Sea), at water depths ranging from 0 to 5 m. The area and the associated living communities were visually explored (snorkeling and SCUBA diving) in June 2021. Twenty sites were investigated for pH, alkalinity and nutrients analysis. Geochemical investigation of hydrothermal fluids gases revealed CO2 dominance (98.1%) together with low amount of oxygen and reactive gases. Helium isotope ratios (R/Ra =2.51) and δ13CCO2 (3) seem to confirm an inorganic origin of hydrothermal degassing of CO2 and the ascent of heat and deep- seated magmatic fluids to the surface. Values of pH ranged between 7.84 and 8.04, ΩCa between 3.68 and 5.24 and ΩAr from 2.41 to 3.44. Visual census of fish and megabenthos revealed the presence of 62 species among which five protected by SPA/BIO Protocol and two by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This study represents the first step for the description of a suitable area of considerable interest for future ocean acidification experimental studies.

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A look to the future acidified ocean through the eyes of the alien and invasive alga Caulerpa cylindracea (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae)

Underwater CO2 vents represent natural laboratories where the responses of marine organisms to ocean acidification can be tested. In a such context, we investigated the changes in the physiology, anatomy, and ultrastructure of the non-indigenous algal species Caulerpa cylindracea growing along a natural pH/CO2 gradient, by conducting a reciprocal transplant experiment between two populations from an acidified vs a non-acidified site. Stress effects in transplants from current to lowered pH conditions resulted in a decrease in the number of active chloroplasts together with an increased number of dilatations between thylakoid membranes and a higher amount of plastoglobules. These changes were consistent with a decrease in the chlorophyll content and in photosynthetic efficiency, matched by an increase in carotenoid content and non-photochemical yields. On the opposite side, transplants from low to current pH showed a recovery to original conditions. Unexpectedly, no significant difference was recorded between wild populations living at current and lowered pH. These results suggest an ongoing acclimation process to lowered pH in the C. cylindracea populations growing in the vent area. This confirms the high plasticity of this invasive species, able to cope not only with different light and temperature conditions but even with a new acidified scenario.

Continue reading ‘A look to the future acidified ocean through the eyes of the alien and invasive alga Caulerpa cylindracea (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae)’

Limited behavioural effects of ocean acidification on a Mediterranean anemone goby (Gobius incognitus) chronically exposed to elevated CO2 levels

Graphical abstract


  • This is the first assessment in the wild of behavioural responses of fish acutely and chronically exposed to elevated CO2.
  • High density of anemone goby fish was recorded at high-CO2 levels off a volcanic CO2 vent in Vulcano island (Italy).
  • Acute and chronic exposure to elevated CO2 did not affect most of the behaviours in adult G. incognitus.
  • Behavioural plasticity occurred under ocean acidification conditions suggesting potential local adaptation.


An in situ reciprocal transplant experiment was carried around a volcanic CO2 vent to evaluate the anti-predator responses of an anemone goby species exposed to ambient (∼380 μatm) and high (∼850 μatm) CO2 sites. Overall, the anemone gobies displayed largely unaffected behaviors under high-CO2 conditions suggesting an adaptive potential of Gobius incognitus to ocean acidification (OA) conditions. This is also supported by its 3-fold higher density recorded in the field under high CO2. However, while fish exposed to ambient conditions showed an expected reduction in the swimming activity in the proximity of the predator between the pre- and post-exposure period, no such changes were detected in any of the other treatments where fish experienced acute and long-term high CO2. This may suggest an OA effect on the goby antipredator strategy. Our findings contribute to the ongoing debate over the need for realistic predictions of the impacts of expected increased CO2 concentration on fish, providing evidence from a natural high CO2 system.

Continue reading ‘Limited behavioural effects of ocean acidification on a Mediterranean anemone goby (Gobius incognitus) chronically exposed to elevated CO2 levels’

Ocean acidification drives global reshuffling of ecological communities

The paradigm that climate change will alter global marine biodiversity is one of the most widely accepted. Yet, its predictions remain difficult to test because laboratory systems are inadequate at incorporating ecological complexity, and common biodiversity metrics have varying sensitivity to detect change. Here, we test for the prevalence of global responses in biodiversity and community-level change to future climate (acidification and warming) from studies at volcanic CO2 vents across four major global coastal ecosystems and studies in laboratory mesocosms. We detected globally replicable patterns of species replacements and community reshuffling under ocean acidification in major natural ecosystems, yet species diversity and other common biodiversity metrics were often insensitive to detect such community change, even under significant habitat loss. Where there was a lack of consistent patterns of biodiversity change, these were a function of similar numbers of studies observing negative versus positive species responses to climate stress. Laboratory studies showed weaker sensitivity to detect species replacements and community reshuffling in general. We conclude that common biodiversity metrics can be insensitive in revealing the anticipated effects of climate stress on biodiversity—even under significant biogenic habitat loss—and can mask widespread reshuffling of ecological communities in a future ocean. Although the influence of ocean acidification on community restructuring can be less evident than species loss, such changes can drive the dynamics of ecosystem stability or their functional change. Importantly, species identity matters, representing a substantial influence of future oceans.

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Coastal carbonate system variability along an active lava–seawater interface

Lava flows from the 2021 volcanic eruption in La Palma, Canary Islands, reached the shoreline during three events on September 28th, November 10th, and November 22nd, strongly affecting the seawater properties as they interacted with the seawater. The evolution of surface and water column physicochemical properties (temperature, salinity, carbonate system variables, and dissolved oxygen) was characterized during 13 visits to the frontal zone of the newly formed deltas. A large volume of hot (50°C measured on November 12th) and high salinity seawater promoted pH values in the frontal zone of 7.0 with important decreases in alkalinity, ΔAT, and total dissolved inorganic carbon, ΔCT, that reached 566 and 272 µmol kg−1, respectively. The addition of acids generated during the lava–seawater interaction (44.4 mmol), together with those used in the titration of carbonate alkalinity (796 ± 72 mmol) plus acids used in metal dissolution (21 mmol), was estimated with an average added proton concentration of 0.31 µmol kg−1 of seawater in the affected 2.7 · 106 m3 for November 12th. During this event, the decrease in pH and the increase in temperature increased the partial pressure of CO2, outgassing 2 tons of CO2, 40 times the daily emitted CO2 for this area under non-eruptive conditions. One month after the eruption, the studied physicochemical properties of the seawater close to the new deltas returned to the usual non-eruptive normal values, which include the presence of low salinity, low pH, and high CO2 gas diffusive emissions through submarine groundwater discharges observed between the formed deltas. The new mineral-rich deltas and the increase in solubility due to the low pH conditions contributed to the recovery of the affected area.

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Phototrophic sponge productivity may not be enhanced in a high CO2 world

Sponges are major components of benthic communities across the world and have been identified as potential “winners” on coral reefs in the face of global climate change as result of their tolerance to ocean warming and acidification (OA). Previous studies have also hypothesised that photosymbiont-containing sponges might have higher productivity under future OA conditions as a result of photosymbionts having increased access to CO2 and subsequently greater carbon production. Here we test this hypothesis for a widespread and abundant photosymbiont-containing sponge species Lamellodysidea herbacea at a CO2 seep in Papua New Guinea simulating OA conditions. We found seep sponges had relatively higher cyanobacterial abundance, chlorophyll concentrations and symbiont photosynthetic efficiency than non-seep sponges, and a three-fold higher sponge abundance at the seep site. However, while gross oxygen production was the same for seep and non-seep sponges, seep sponge dark respiration rates were higher and instantaneous photosynthesis: respiration (P:R) ratios were lower. We show that while photosymbiont containing sponges may not have increased productivity under OA, they are able to show flexibility in their relationships with microbes and offset increased metabolic costs associated with climate change associated stress.

Continue reading ‘Phototrophic sponge productivity may not be enhanced in a high CO2 world’

Molecular response of Sargassum vulgare to acidification at volcanic CO2 vents: insights from proteomic and metabolite analyses

Ocean acidification is impacting marine life all over the world. Understanding how species can cope with the changes in seawater carbonate chemistry represents a challenging issue. We addressed this topic using underwater CO2 vents that naturally acidify some marine areas off the island of Ischia. In the most acidified area of the vents, having a mean pH value of 6.7, comparable to far-future predicted acidification scenarios (by 2300), the biomass is dominated by the brown alga Sargassum vulgare. The novelty of the present study is the characterization of the S. vulgare proteome together with metabolite analyses to identify the key proteins, metabolites, and pathways affected by ocean acidification. A total of 367 and 387 proteins were identified in populations grown at pH that approximates the current global average (8.1) and acidified sites, respectively. Analysis of their relative abundance revealed that 304 proteins are present in samples from both sites: 111 proteins are either higher or exclusively present under acidified conditions, whereas 120 proteins are either lower or present only under control conditions. Functionally, under acidification, a decrease in proteins related to translation and post-translational processes and an increase of proteins involved in photosynthesis, glycolysis, oxidation-reduction processes, and protein folding were observed. In addition, small-molecule metabolism was affected, leading to a decrease of some fatty acids and antioxidant compounds under acidification. Overall, the results obtained by proteins and metabolites analyses, integrated with previous transcriptomic, physiological, and biochemical studies, allowed us to delineate the molecular strategies adopted by S. vulgare to grow in future acidified environments, including an increase of proteins involved in energetic metabolism, oxidation-reduction processes, and protein folding at the expense of proteins involved in translation and post-translational processes.

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