Posts Tagged 'vents'

Coral calcification mechanisms facilitate adaptive responses to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) is a pressing threat to reef-building corals, but it remains poorly understood how coral calcification is inhibited by OA and whether corals could acclimatize and/or adapt to OA. Using a novel geochemical approach, we reconstructed the carbonate chemistry of the calcifying fluid in two coral species using both a pH and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) proxy (δ11B and B/Ca, respectively). To address the potential for adaptive responses, both species were collected from two sites spanning a natural gradient in seawater pH and temperature, and then subjected to three pHT levels (8.04, 7.88, 7.71) crossed by two temperatures (control, +1.5°C) for 14 weeks. Corals from the site with naturally lower seawater pH calcified faster and maintained growth better under simulated OA than corals from the higher-pH site. This ability was consistently linked to higher pH yet lower DIC values in the calcifying fluid, suggesting that these differences are the result of long-term acclimatization and/or local adaptation to naturally lower seawater pH. Nevertheless, all corals elevated both pH and DIC significantly over seawater values, even under OA. This implies that high pH upregulation combined with moderate levels of DIC upregulation promote resistance and adaptive responses of coral calcification to OA.

Continue reading ‘Coral calcification mechanisms facilitate adaptive responses to ocean acidification’

Eukaryotic metabarcoding pipelines for biodiversity assessment of marine benthic communities affected by ocean acidification

The development of high-throughput sequencing technologies has provided ecologists with an efficient approach to assess biodiversity in benthic communities, particularly with the recent advances in metabarcoding technologies using universal primers. However, analyzing such high-throughput data is posing important computational challenges, requiring specialized bioinformatics solutions at different stages during the processing pipeline, such as assembly of paired-end reads, chimera removal, correction of sequencing errors, and clustering of obtained sequences into Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTUs). The inferred MOTUs can then be used to estimate species diversity, composition, and richness. Although a number of methods have been developed and commonly used to cluster the sequences into MOTUs, relatively little guidance is available on their relative performance. We focused our study in the benthic community from a natural CO2 vent present in the Canary Islands, as it can be used as a natural laboratory in which to investigate the impacts of chronic ocean acidification. Here, we propose a pipeline for studying this community using a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) sequence. We compared two DNA extraction methods, two clustering methods and validated a robust method to eliminate false positives. We found that we can obtain optimal results purifying DNA from 0.3 g of sample. Using the step-by-step aggregation algorithm implemented in SWARM for clustering yields similar results as using the Bayesian clustering method of CROP, in much less time. We introduced the new algorithm MINT (Multiple Intersection of N Tags), in order to eliminate false positives due to random errors produced before or after the sequencing. Our results show that a fully-automated analysis pipeline can be used for assessing biodiversity of marine benthic communities using COI as a metabarcoding marker in an objective, accurate and affordable manner.

Continue reading ‘Eukaryotic metabarcoding pipelines for biodiversity assessment of marine benthic communities affected by ocean acidification’

Reproduction of an azooxanthellate coral is unaffected by ocean acidification

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and consequent ocean acidification (OA) are projected to have extensive consequences on marine calcifying organisms, including corals. While the effects of OA on coral calcification are well documented, the response of reproduction is still poorly understood since no information are reported for temperate corals. Here we investigate for the first time the influence of OA on sexual reproduction of the temperate azooxanthellate solitary scleractinian Leptopsammia pruvoti transplanted along a natural pCO2 gradient at a Mediterranean CO2 vent. After 3 months, future projection of pH levels did not influence the germ cell production, gametogenesis and embryogenesis in this azooxanthellate coral. These findings suggest that reproductive potential may be quite tolerant to decreasing pH, with implications for ecosystem function and services in a changing ocean.

Continue reading ‘Reproduction of an azooxanthellate coral is unaffected by ocean acidification’

Diversity and stability of coral endolithic microbial communities at a naturally high pCO2 reef

The health and functioning of reef-building corals is dependent on a balanced association with prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes. The coral skeleton harbours numerous endolithic microbes, but their diversity, ecological roles and responses to environmental stress, including ocean acidification (OA), are not well characterized. This study tests whether pH affects the diversity and structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic algal communities associated with skeletons of Porites spp. using targeted amplicon (16S rRNA gene, UPA and tufA) sequencing. We found that the composition of endolithic communities in the massive coral Porites spp. inhabiting a naturally high pCO2 reef (avg. pCO2 811 μatm) is not significantly different from corals inhabiting reference sites (avg. pCO2 357 μatm), suggesting that these microbiomes are less disturbed by OA than previously thought. Possible explanations may be that the endolithic microhabitat is highly homeostatic or that the endolithic micro-organisms are well adapted to a wide pH range. Some of the microbial taxa identified include nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Rhizobiales and cyanobacteria), algicidal bacteria in the phylum Bacteroidetes, symbiotic bacteria in the family Endozoicomoniaceae, and endolithic green algae, considered the major microbial agent of reef bioerosion. Additionally, we test whether host species has an effect on the endolithic community structure. We show that the endolithic community of massive Porites spp. is substantially different and more diverse than that found in skeletons of the branching species Seriatopora hystrix and Pocillopora damicornis. This study reveals highly diverse and structured microbial communities in Porites spp. skeletons that are possibly resilient to OA.

Continue reading ‘Diversity and stability of coral endolithic microbial communities at a naturally high pCO2 reef’

Target gene expression studies on Platynereis dumerilii and Platynereis cfr massiliensis at the shallow CO2 vents off Ischia, Italy

Many studies predict negative effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms, potentially leading to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function. Research on species inhabiting naturally high pCO2 environments, such as volcanic CO2 vents, offers an opportunity to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in high pCO2 regulation. Here we investigate the relative expression of NADH dehydrogenase, sodium-hydrogen antiporter (NHE), carbonic anhydrase (CA) and paramyosin genes from two non-calcifying sibling Nereididae polychaetes species, Platynereis cfr massiliensis, collected in the shallow CO2 vents off Ischia (Italy; 40°43′52.0″N 13°57′46.2″E and 40°43′55.5″N 13°57′48.4″E), and P. dumerilii collected in an area nearby (40°43′34.51″N; 13°57′35.7″E). The origin of the worms was confirmed using restriction enzyme digest. NHE and paramyosin expressions were both significantly increased in P. dumerilii relative to the P. cfr massiliensis vent populations. Furthermore, a seven day laboratory transfer experiment to lower/higher pCO2 conditions was conducted to investigate the effects on the short term gene expression. The transfer experiment of the non-vent worms to high pCO2 conditions showed no significant effect on any of the genes analysed, however, two genes (NADH dehydrogenase and NHE) from worms of the vent population were significantly down-regulated under low pCO2. These findings will help to gain further insights into the cellular mechanisms affected by pCO2 changes in two polychaete species.

Continue reading ‘Target gene expression studies on Platynereis dumerilii and Platynereis cfr massiliensis at the shallow CO2 vents off Ischia, Italy’

Nutrient loading fosters seagrass productivity under ocean acidification

The effects of climate change are likely to be dependent on local settings. Nonetheless, the compounded effects of global and regional stressors remain poorly understood. Here, we used CO2 vents to assess how the effects of ocean acidification on the seagrass, Posidonia oceanica, and the associated epiphytic community can be modified by enhanced nutrient loading. P. oceanica at ambient and low pH sites was exposed to three nutrient levels for 16 months. The response of P. oceanica to experimental conditions was assessed by combining analyses of gene expression, plant growth, photosynthetic pigments and epiphyte loading. At low pH, nutrient addition fostered plant growth and the synthesis of photosynthetic pigments. Overexpression of nitrogen transporter genes following nutrient additions at low pH suggests enhanced nutrient uptake by the plant. In addition, enhanced nutrient levels reduced the expression of selected antioxidant genes in plants exposed to low pH and increased epiphyte cover at both ambient and low pH. Our results show that the effects of ocean acidification on P. oceanica depend upon local nutrient concentration. More generally, our findings suggest that taking into account local environmental settings will be crucial to advance our understanding of the effects of global stressors on marine systems.

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Ocean acidification does not impair predator recognition but increases juvenile growth in a temperate wrasse off CO2 seeps


  • CO2 effects on the ocellated wrasse predator cue recognition were assessed.
  • Behavioural and otolith analyses were performed on Symphodus ocellatus from CO2 seeps.
  • Predation risk perception by the ocellated wrasse juveniles was unaffected by CO2.
  • High CO2 levels enhanced the S. ocellatus post-settlement growth.


Fish behavioural effects under Ocean Acidification (OA) rely on changes expected to occur in brain function, which can be reversed by gabazine, a GABA-A antagonist. Here, using standard two-channel choice flume, we assessed OA effects on the predator recognition ability of both gabazine-treated and -untreated Symphodus ocellatus post-settlers living off CO2 seeps in the Mediterranean Sea. To estimate the post-settlers background predation risk we evaluated the density of their predator in the wild and through otolith aging techniques we assessed their post-settlement growth. Results showed that: 1) post-settlers predator recognition was unaffected under OA; 2) post-settlers living in elevated CO2 were on average 15% bigger in size than those from ambient conditions. Our results support fish behavioural tolerance to OA, potentially mediated by pre-exposure to high-risk predation levels, and speculate that by increasing body size, juvenile fish might more efficiently avoid their predators.
Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification does not impair predator recognition but increases juvenile growth in a temperate wrasse off CO2 seeps’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book