Marine algae exhibit different responses to ocean acidification, suggesting that a decrease in pH does not always favour marine photosynthetic organisms. In order to understand the effect of acidification on algal community development, early colonization stages were investigated using carbon dioxide vents around the Castello Aragonese (Ischia, Italy) as a natural laboratory. Settlement tiles were placed in zones with different pH (normal, medium and low), and species composition and coverage measured after 2, 3 and 4 months of deployment. The number of species decreased by 4 and 18 % at medium and low pH zones, respectively (P < 0.05). The structure of the algal assemblage differed between pH zones during the 4 months of the experiment, due to the addition and/or replacement of new species. This leads to a change in the succession of morphological forms as soft crustose algae replaced calcareous species, and turf species were dominant in cover; more complex thalli started to occur only at medium pH. These results support previous findings that ocean acidification will induce changes in benthic algal communities.
Posts Tagged 'community composition'
Tags: abundance, algae, biological response, community composition, field, Mediterranean
Tags: abundance, biological response, community composition, fungi, laboratory, molecular biology, North Atlantic, prokaryotes
Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are causing an acidification of the world’s oceans. The consequences for marine organisms and especially heterotrophic bacteria remain under debate, and almost nothing is known concerning marine fungi. Both microbial groups are important players in organic matter decomposition and nutrient cycling, and their pH tolerance is known to be broad in relation to the predicted acidification. So far, ocean acidification effects on marine bacterial communities have mainly been investigated in large-scale mesocosm studies. In these systems, indirect effects mediated through complex food web interactions come into play. Until now, these experiments were not carried out in sufficient replication. In this thesis, we chose an alternative approach and investigated bacterial and fungal communities in highly replicated microcosm experiments (1-1.6 L). The duration of the experiments was four weeks. We incubated the natural microbial community from Helgoland Roads (North Sea) at in situ seawater pH, pH 7.82 and pH 7.67. These pH levels represent the present-day situation and acidification at atmospheric CO2 of 700 or 1000 ppm, projected for the southern North Sea for the year 2100. For the bacterial community, different dilution approaches were used to select for different ecological groups. Seasonality was accounted for by repeating the experiment four times (spring, summer, autumn, winter). In a second experiment repeated in two consecutive years, we investigated direct pH effects on marine fungal communities. We additionally isolated marine yeasts and identified them by Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and partial sequencing of the large subunit (LSU) rRNA gene. To reveal changes in community structure, we applied the culture-independent fingerprint method automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) for both bacteria and fungi. Bacterial communities were furthermore analyzed by 16S ribosomal amplicon pyrosequencing. Abundances were determined by flow cytometry (bacteria) and colony forming unit counts (fungi). To be able to interpret results comprehensively, we determined the natural variability of the carbonate system at Helgoland Roads over a yearly cycle. We found that from September 2010 to September 2011, pH at Helgoland Roads ranged from 8.06 to 8.43, corresponding to partial pressures of carbon dioxide (pCO2) of 215-526 µatm. The acidification predicted for the year 2100 consequently represents a strong perturbation of the system. Bacterial communities developing in the microcosms were primarily influenced by season and dilution, demonstrating that diverse communities had been generated. We predominantly found pH-dependent shifts in bacterial community structure already at pH 7.82. Groups involved in these shifts were different members of Gammaproteobacteria, Flavobacteriaceae, Rhodobacteraceae, Campylobacteraceae and further less abundant groups. While Rhodobacteraceae were consistently less characteristic for reduced pH, Campylobacteraceae profited from pH reduction. For most other bacterial groups however, pH effects were context-dependent, i.e. dependent on season, dilution or an interaction of effects. Regarding bacterial abundance, no pH effect was found. Fungal community structure was significantly different between both years of the experiment, hinting at inter-annual variability. Shifts in response to pH occurred predominantly only at pH 7.67. In contrast, a strong pH effect was observed on fungal abundance. In comparison to in situ pH, fungal numbers were on average 9 times higher at pH 7.82 and 34 times higher at pH 7.67. Concerning marine yeasts, Leucosporidium scottii, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa and related species, as well as Cryptococcus sp. and Debaromyces hansenii reacted positively to low pH. Our findings demonstrate that already small reductions in pH have direct effects on both bacterial and fungal communities. A tipping point for community shifts appears to be reached earlier for bacteria than for fungi. Regarding bacteria and yeasts, both naturally abundant groups and rare species were affected by pH reductions. The strong increase in fungal numbers at reduced pH suggests that with ocean acidification, marine fungi may reach higher importance in marine biogeochemical cycles and as infectious agents. Using a microcosm approach, a robust analysis of direct ocean acidification effects on marine bacterial and fungal communities was accomplished. Results yield valuable hypotheses to test in future large-scale and long-term studies.
Tags: abundance, biological response, community composition, fungi, laboratory, North Atlantic
Recent studies have discussed the consequences of ocean acidification for bacterial processes and diversity. However, the decomposition of complex substrates in marine environments, a key part of the flow of energy in ecosystems, is largely mediated by marine fungi. Although marine fungi have frequently been reported to prefer low pH levels, this group has been neglected in ocean acidification research. We present the first investigation of direct pH effects on marine fungal abundance and community structure. In microcosm experiments repeated in 2 consecutive years, we incubated natural North Sea water for 4 wk at in situ seawater pH (8.10 and 8.26), pH 7.82 and pH 7.67. Fungal abundance was determined by colony forming unit (cfu) counts, and fungal community structure was investigated by the culture-independent fingerprint method Fungal Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (F-ARISA). Furthermore, pH at the study site was determined over a yearly cycle. Fungal cfu were on average 9 times higher at pH 7.82 and 34 times higher at pH 7.67 compared to in situ seawater pH, and we observed fungal community shifts predominantly at pH 7.67. Currently, surface seawater pH at Helgoland Roads remains >8.0 throughout the year; thus we cannot exclude that fungal responses may differ in regions regularly experiencing lower pH values. However, our results suggest that under realistic levels of ocean acidification, marine fungi will reach greater importance in marine biogeochemical cycles. The rise of this group of organisms will affect a variety of biotic interactions in the sea.
Tags: algae, biological response, community composition, echinoderms, laboratory, Mediterranean, morphology
Temperate marine rocky habitats may be alternatively characterized by well vegetated macroalgal assemblages or barren grounds, as a consequence of direct and indirect human impacts (e.g. overfishing) and grazing pressure by herbivorous organisms. In future scenarios of ocean acidification, calcifying organisms are expected to be less competitive: among these two key elements of the rocky subtidal food web, coralline algae and sea urchins. In order to highlight how the effects of increased pCO2 on individual calcifying species will be exacerbated by interactions with other trophic levels, we performed an experiment simultaneously testing ocean acidification effects on primary producers (calcifying and non-calcifying algae) and their grazers (sea urchins). Artificial communities, composed by juveniles of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus and calcifying (Corallina elongata) and non-calcifying (Cystoseira amentacea var stricta, Dictyota dichotoma) macroalgae, were subjected to pCO2 levels of 390, 550, 750 and 1000 µatm in the laboratory. Our study highlighted a direct pCO2 effect on coralline algae and on sea urchin defense from predation (test robustness). There was no direct effect on the non-calcifying macroalgae. More interestingly, we highlighted diet-mediated effects on test robustness and on the Aristotle’s lantern size. In a future scenario of ocean acidification a decrease of sea urchins’ density is expected, due to lower defense from predation, as a direct consequence of pH decrease, and to a reduced availability of calcifying macroalgae, important component of urchins’ diet. The effects of ocean acidification may therefore be contrasting on well vegetated macroalgal assemblages and barren grounds: in the absence of other human impacts, a decrease of biodiversity can be predicted in vegetated macroalgal assemblages, whereas a lower density of sea urchin could help the recovery of shallow subtidal rocky areas affected by overfishing from barren grounds to assemblages dominated by fleshy macroalgae.
Tags: biological response, calcification, community composition, corals, field, laboratory, North Pacific, photosynthesis
Anthropogenic increases in the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) cause ocean acidification, declining calcium carbonate saturation states, reduced coral reef calcification and changes in the compositions of marine communities1. Most projected community changes due to ocean acidification describe transitions from hard coral to non-calcifying macroalgal communities2; other organisms have received less attention, despite the biotic diversity of coral reef communities. We show that the spatial distributions of both hard and soft coral communities in volcanically acidified, semi-enclosed waters off Iwotorishima Island, Japan, are related to pCO2 levels. Hard corals are restricted to non-acidified low- pCO2 (225 μatm) zones, dense populations of the soft coral Sarcophyton elegans dominate medium- pCO2 (831 μatm) zones, and both hard and soft corals are absent from the highest- pCO2 (1,465 μatm) zone. In CO2-enriched culture experiments, high- pCO2 conditions benefited Sarcophyton elegans by enhancing photosynthesis rates and did not affect light calcification, but dark decalcification (negative net calcification) increased with increasing pCO2. These results suggest that reef communities may shift from reef-building hard corals to non-reef-building soft corals under pCO2 levels (550–970 μatm) predicted by the end of this century3, and that higher pCO2 levels would challenge the survival of some reef organisms.
Tags: Arctic, biogeochemistry, community, community composition, field, mesocosms
Increasing atmospheric CO2 is decreasing ocean pH most rapidly in colder regions such as the Arctic. As a component of the EPOCA (European Project on Ocean Acidification) pelagic mesocosm experiment off Spitzbergen in 2010, we examined the consequences of decreased pH and increased pCO2 on the concentrations of dimethylsulphide (DMS). DMS is an important reactant and contributor to aerosol formation and growth in the Arctic troposphere. In the nine mesocosms with initial pHT 8.3 to 7.5, equivalent to pCO2 of 180 to 1420 μatm, highly significant but inverse responses to acidity (hydrogen ion concentration [H+]) occurred following nutrient addition. Compared to ambient [H+], average concentrations of DMS during the mid-phase of the 30 d experiment, when the influence of altered acidity was unambiguous, were reduced by approximately 60% at the highest [H+] and by 35% at [H+] equivalent to 750 μatm pCO2, as projected for 2100. In contrast, concentrations of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), the precursor of DMS, were elevated by approximately 50% at the highest [H+] and by 30% at [H+] corresponding to 750 μatm pCO2. Measurements of the specific rate of synthesis of DMSP by phytoplankton indicate increased production at high [H+], in parallel to rates of inorganic carbon fixation. The elevated DMSP production at high [H+] was largely a consequence of increased dinoflagellate biomass and in particular, the increased abundance of the species Heterocapsa rotundata. We discuss both phytoplankton and bacterial processes that may explain the reduced ratios of DMS:DMSPt (total dimethylsulphoniopropionate) at higher [H+]. The experimental design of eight treatment levels provides comparatively robust empirical relationships of DMS and DMSP concentration, DMSP production and dinoflagellate biomass versus [H+] in Arctic waters.
The response of abyssal organisms to low pH conditions during a series of CO2-release experiments simulating deep-sea carbon sequestrationPublished 21 March 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: abundance, annelids, biological response, community composition, crustaceans, echinoderms, field, fish, mitigation, mollusks, nematodes, North Pacific, prokaryotes, survival
The effects of low-pH, high-pCO2 conditions on deep-sea organisms were examined during four deep-sea CO2 release experiments simulating deep-ocean C sequestration by the direct injection of CO2 into the deep sea. We examined the survival of common deep-sea, benthic organisms (microbes; macrofauna, dominated by Polychaeta, Nematoda, Crustacea, Mollusca; megafauna, Echinodermata, Mollusca, Pisces) exposed to low-pH waters emanating as a dissolution plume from pools of liquid carbon dioxide released on the seabed during four abyssal CO2-release experiments. Microbial abundance in deep-sea sediments was unchanged in one experiment, but increased under environmental hypercapnia during another, where the microbial assemblage may have benefited indirectly from the negative impact of low-pH conditions on other taxa. Lower abyssal metazoans exhibited low survival rates near CO2 pools. No urchins or holothurians survived during 30–42 days of exposure to episodic, but severe environmental hypercapnia during one experiment (E1; pH reduced by as much as ca. 1.4 units). These large pH reductions also caused 75% mortality for the deep-sea amphipod, Haploops lodo, near CO2 pools. Survival under smaller pH reductions (ΔpH<0.4 units) in other experiments (E2, E3, E5) was higher for all taxa, including echinoderms. Cephalopods, gastropods, and fish were more tolerant than most other taxa. The gastropod Mohnia vernalis and octopus Benthoctopus sp. survived exposure to pH reductions that episodically reached −0.3 pH units. Ninety percent of abyssal zoarcids (Pachycara bulbiceps) survived exposure to pH changes reaching ca. −0.3 pH units during 30–42 day-long experiments.
Benthic foraminifera show some resilience to ocean acidification in the northern Gulf of California, MexicoPublished 8 March 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, community composition, dissolution, diversity, field, North Pacific, protists
Extensive CO2 vents have been discovered in the Wagner Basin, northern Gulf of California, where they create large areas with lowered seawater pH. Such areas are suitable for investigations of long-term biological effects of ocean acidification and effects of CO2 leakage from subsea carbon capture storage. Here, we show responses of benthic foraminifera to seawater pH gradients at 74–207 m water depth. Living (rose Bengal stained) benthic foraminifera included Nonionella basispinata, Epistominella bradyana and Bulimina marginata. Studies on foraminifera at CO2 vents in the Mediterranean and off Papua New Guinea have shown dramatic long-term effects of acidified seawater. We found living calcareous benthic foraminifera in low pH conditions in the northern Gulf of California, although there was an impoverished species assemblage and evidence of post-mortem test dissolution.
High tolerance of microzooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community (update)Published 6 March 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: Arctic, biological response, community composition, diversity, field, mesocosms, zooplankton
Impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine biota have been observed in a wide range of marine systems. We used a mesocosm approach to study the response of a high Arctic coastal microzooplankton community during the post-bloom period in Kongsfjorden (Svalbard) to direct and indirect effects of high pCO2/low pH. We found almost no direct effects of OA on microzooplankton composition and diversity. Both the relative shares of ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates as well as the taxonomic composition of microzooplankton remained unaffected by changes in pCO2/pH. Although the different pCO2 treatments affected food availability and phytoplankton composition, no indirect effects (e.g. on the total carrying capacity and phenology of microzooplankton) could be observed. Our data point to a high tolerance of this Arctic microzooplankton community to changes in pCO2/pH. Future studies on the impact of OA on plankton communities should include microzooplankton in order to test whether the observed low sensitivity to OA is typical for coastal communities where changes in seawater pH occur frequently.
Tags: biological response, community composition, fungi, laboratory, molecular biology, North Atlantic
Marine yeasts play an important role in biodegradation and nutrient cycling and are often associated with marine flora and fauna. They show maximum growth at pH levels lower than present-day seawater pH. Thus, contrary to many other marine organisms, they may actually profit from ocean acidification. Hence, we conducted a microcosm study, incubating natural seawater from the North Sea at present-day pH (8.10) and two near-future pH levels (7.81 and 7.67). Yeasts were isolated from the initial seawater sample and after 2 and 4 weeks of incubation. Isolates were classified by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and representative isolates were identified by partial sequencing of the large subunit rRNA gene. From the initial seawater sample, we predominantly isolated a yeast-like filamentous fungus related to Aureobasidium pullulans, Cryptococcus sp., Candida sake, and various cold-adapted yeasts. After incubation, we found more different yeast species at near-future pH levels than at present-day pH. Yeasts reacting to low pH were related to Leucosporidium scottii, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, Cryptococcus sp., and Debaryomyces hansenii. Our results suggest that these yeasts will benefit from seawater pH reductions and give a first indication that the importance of yeasts will increase in a more acidic ocean.