Ocean acidification reduces growth and calcification in a marine dinoflagellate


Ocean acidification reduces growth and calcification in a marine dinoflagellate

Published 18 June 2013 Science Leave a Comment
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Ocean acidification is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems and may particularly affect calcifying organisms such as corals, foraminifera and coccolithophores. Here we investigate the impact of elevated pCO2 and lowered pH on growth and calcification in the common calcareous dinoflagellate Thoracosphaera heimii. We observe a substantial reduction in growth rate, calcification and cyst stability of T. heimii under elevated pCO2. Furthermore, transcriptomic analyses reveal CO2 sensitive regulation of many genes, particularly those being associated to inorganic carbon acquisition and calcification. Stable carbon isotope fractionation for organic carbon production increased with increasing pCO2 whereas it decreased for calcification, which suggests interdependence between both processes. We also found a strong effect of pCO2 on the stable oxygen isotopic composition of calcite, in line with earlier observations concerning another T. heimii strain. The observed changes in stable oxygen and carbon isotope composition of T. heimii cysts may provide an ideal tool for reconstructing past seawater carbonate chemistry, and ultimately past pCO2. Although the function of calcification in T. heimii remains unresolved, this trait likely plays an important role in the ecological and evolutionary success of this species. Acting on calcification as well as growth, ocean acidification may therefore impose a great threat for T. heimii.


Van de Waal D. B., John U., Ziveri P., Reichart G.-J., Hoins M., Sluijs A. & Rost B., 2013. Ocean acidification reduces growth and calcification in a marine dinoflagellate. PLoS ONE 8(6): e65987. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065987. Article.

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