Presence of skeletal banding in a reef-building tropical crustose coralline alga.
ABSTRACT: The presence of banding in the skeleton of coralline algae has been reported in many species, primarily from temperate and polar regions. Similar to tree rings, skeletal banding can provide information on growth rate, age, and longevity; as well as records of past environmental conditions and the coralline alga's growth responses to such changes. The aim of this study was to explore the presence and characterise the nature of banding in the tropical coralline alga Porolithon onkodes, an abundant and key reef-building species on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Australia, and the Indo-Pacific in general. To achieve this we employed various methods including X-ray diffraction (XRD) to determine seasonal mol% magnesium (Mg), mineralogy mapping to investigate changes in dominant mineral phases, scanning electron microscopy-electron dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scanning to examine changes in cell size and density banding, and UV light to examine reproductive (conceptacle) banding. Seasonal variation in the Mg content of the skeleton did occur and followed previously recorded variations with the highest mol% MgCO3 in summer and lowest in winter, confirming the positive relationship between seawater temperature and mol% MgCO3. Rows of conceptacles viewed under UV light provided easily distinguishable bands that could be used to measure vertical growth rate (1.4 mm year-1) and age of the organism. Micro-CT scanning showed obvious banding patterns in relation to skeletal density, and mineralogical mapping revealed patterns of banding created by changes in Mg content. Thus, we present new evidence for seasonal banding patterns in the tropical coralline alga P. onkodes. This banding in the P. onkodes skeleton can provide valuable information into the present and past life history of this important reef-building species, and is essential to assess and predict the response of these organisms to future climate and environmental changes.
Project description:Ocean acidification (OA) has important implications for the persistence of coral reef ecosystems, due to potentially negative effects on biomineralization. Many coral reefs are dynamic with respect to carbonate chemistry, and experience fluctuations in pCO? that exceed OA projections for the near future. To understand the influence of dynamic pCO? on an important reef calcifier, we tested the response of the crustose coralline alga Porolithon onkodes to oscillating pCO?. Individuals were exposed to ambient (400 µatm), high (660 µatm), or variable pCO? (oscillating between 400/660 µatm) treatments for 14 days. To explore the potential for coralline acclimatization, we collected individuals from low and high pCO? variability sites (upstream and downstream respectively) on a back reef characterized by unidirectional water flow in Moorea, French Polynesia. We quantified the effects of treatment on algal calcification by measuring the change in buoyant weight, and on algal metabolism by conducting sealed incubations to measure rates of photosynthesis and respiration. Net photosynthesis was higher in the ambient treatment than the variable treatment, regardless of habitat origin, and there was no effect on respiration or gross photosynthesis. Exposure to high pCO? decreased P. onkodes calcification by >70%, regardless of the original habitat. In the variable treatment, corallines from the high variability habitat calcified 42% more than corallines from the low variability habitat. The significance of the original habitat for the coralline calcification response to variable, high pCO? indicates that individuals existing in dynamic pCO? habitats may be acclimatized to OA within the scope of in situ variability. These results highlight the importance of accounting for natural pCO? variability in OA manipulations, and provide insight into the potential for plasticity in habitat and species-specific responses to changing ocean chemistry.
Project description:Reconstructing pH from biogenic carbonates using boron isotopic compositions relies on the assumption that only borate, and no boric acid, is present. Red coralline algae are frequently used in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction due to their widespread distribution and regular banding frequency. Prior to undertaking pH reconstructions using red coralline algae we tested the boron composition of the red coralline alga Lithothamnion glaciale using high field NMR. In bulk analysed samples, thirty percent of boron was present as boric acid. We suggest that prior to reconstructing pH using coralline algae 1) species-specific boron compositions and 2) within-skeleton special distributions of boron are determined for multiple species. This will enable site selective boron analyses to be conducted validating coralline algae as palaeo-pH proxies based on boron isotopic compositions.
Project description:Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are critical members of the coral reef ecosystem, yet they remain poorly studied. Recent research on CCA has shown that only a few species play a significant role in the settlement of coral larvae through either the production of chemical settlement cues or the facilitation of specific microbial communities that are hypothesized to influence coral settlement. Thus, defining how DOM exudates differ between CCA species and the bacterioplankton communities these exudates facilitate is important for understanding the role of CCA in invertebrate settlement. We conducted single day exudation experiments on two species of CCA to compare tissue microbiome community structure, DOM production and the effect of DOM on the bacterioplankton community. We collected exudates from Hydrolithon reinboldii and Porolithon onkodes in both filter-sterilized seawater and unfiltered seawater from K?ne'ohe Bay, Hawai'i. Our results demonstrate that while both species exude equivalent quantities of dissolved organic carbon they differ in the composition of fluorescent DOM and fostered distinct microbial communities. P. onkodes exudates facilitate more microbial OTUs associated with coral disease, whereas H. reinboldii facilitated OTUs known to produce antimicrobial compounds. Our results highlight species-specific differences in the composition of fDOM exudates of CCA and the effect of those on microbial community structure.
Project description:Key calcifying reef taxa are currently threatened by thermal stress associated with elevated sea surface temperatures (SST) and reduced calcification linked to ocean acidification (OA). Here we undertook an 8 week experimental exposure to near-future climate change conditions and explored the microbiome response of the corals Acropora millepora and Seriatopora hystrix, the crustose coralline algae Hydrolithon onkodes, the foraminifera Marginopora vertebralis and Heterostegina depressa and the sea urchin Echinometra sp. Microbial communities of all taxa were tolerant of elevated pCO2/reduced pH, exhibiting stable microbial communities between pH 8.1 (pCO2 479-499 μatm) and pH 7.9 (pCO2 738-835 μatm). In contrast, microbial communities of the CCA and foraminifera were sensitive to elevated seawater temperature, with a significant microbial shift involving loss of specific taxa and appearance of novel microbial groups occurring between 28 and 31 °C. An interactive effect between stressors was also identified, with distinct communities developing under different pCO2 conditions only evident at 31 °C. Microbiome analysis of key calcifying coral reef species under near-future climate conditions highlights the importance of assessing impacts from both increased SST and OA, as combinations of these global stressors can amplify microbial shifts which may have concomitant impacts for coral reef structure and function.
Project description:Human-induced ocean acidification and warming alter seawater carbonate chemistry reducing the calcification of reef-building crustose coralline algae (CCA), which has implications for reef stability. However, due to the presence of multiple carbonate minerals with different solubilities in seawater, the algal mineralogical responses to changes in carbonate chemistry are poorly understood. Here we demonstrate a 200% increase in dolomite concentration in living CCA under greenhouse conditions of high pCO2 (1,225??atm) and warming (30?°C). Aragonite, in contrast, increases with lower pCO2 (296??atm) and low temperature (28?°C). Mineral changes in the surface pigmented skeleton are minor and dolomite and aragonite formation largely occurs in the white crust beneath. Dissolution of high-Mg-calcite and particularly the erosive activities of endolithic algae living inside skeletons play key roles in concentrating dolomite in greenhouse treatments. As oceans acidify and warm in the future, the relative abundance of dolomite in CCA will increase.
Project description:Reduced seawater pH and changes in carbonate chemistry associated with ocean acidification (OA) decrease the recruitment of crustose coralline algae (CCAcf.), an important coral-reef builder. However, it is unclear whether the observed decline in recruitment is driven by impairment of spore germination, or post-settlement processes (e.g. space competition). To address this, we conducted an experiment using a dominant CCA, Porolithon cf. onkodes to test the independent and combined effects of OA, warming, and irradiance on its germination success and early development. Elevated CO2 negatively affected several processes of spore germination, including formation of the germination disc, initial growth, and germling survival. The magnitude of these effects varied depending on the levels of temperature and irradiance. For example, the combination of high CO2 and high temperature reduced formation of the germination disc, but this effect was independent of irradiance levels, while spore abnormalities increased under high CO2 and high temperature particularly in combination with low irradiance intensity. This study demonstrates that spore germination of CCA is impacted by the independent and interactive effects of OA, increasing seawater temperature and irradiance intensity. For the first time, this provides a mechanism for how the sensitivity of critical early life history processes to global change may drive declines of adult populations of key marine calcifiers.
Project description:Ocean acidification (OA) and its associated decline in calcium carbonate saturation states is one of the major threats that tropical coral reefs face this century. Previous studies of the effect of OA on coral reef calcifiers have described a wide variety of outcomes for studies using comparable partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) ranges, suggesting that key questions remain unresolved. One unresolved hypothesis posits that heterogeneity in the response of reef calcifiers to high pCO2 is a result of regional-scale variation in the responses to OA. To test this hypothesis, we incubated two coral taxa (Pocillopora damicornis and massive Porites) and two calcified algae (Porolithon onkodes and Halimeda macroloba) under 400, 700 and 1000 ?atm pCO2 levels in experiments in Moorea (French Polynesia), Hawaii (USA) and Okinawa (Japan), where environmental conditions differ. Both corals and H. macroloba were insensitive to OA at all three locations, while the effects of OA on P. onkodes were location-specific. In Moorea and Hawaii, calcification of P. onkodes was depressed by high pCO2, but for specimens in Okinawa, there was no effect of OA. Using a study of large geographical scale, we show that resistance to OA of some reef species is a constitutive character expressed across the Pacific.
Project description:Turbidity associated with elevated suspended sediment concentrations can significantly reduce underwater light availability. Understanding the consequences for sensitive organisms such as corals and crustose coralline algae (CCA), requires an understanding of tolerance levels and the time course of effects. Adult colonies of Acropora millepora and Pocillopora acuta, juvenile P. acuta, and the CCA Porolithon onkodes were exposed to six light treatments of ~0, 0.02, 0.1, 0.4, 1.1 and 4.3?mol photons m-2 d-1, and their physiological responses were monitored over 30 d. Exposure to very low light (<0.1 mol photons m-2 d-1) caused tissue discoloration (bleaching) in the corals, and discolouration (and partial mortality) of the CCA, yielding 30 d EI10 thresholds (irradiance which results in a 10% change in colour) of 1.2-1.9?mol photons m-2 d-1. Recent monitoring studies during dredging campaigns on a shallow tropical reef, have shown that underwater light levels very close (~500?m away) from a working dredge routinely fall below this value over 30 d periods, but rarely during the pre-dredging baseline phase. Light reduction alone, therefore, constitutes a clear risk to coral reefs from dredging, although at such close proximity other cause-effect pathways, such as sediment deposition and smothering, are likely to also co-occur.
Project description:Ocean acidification (OA) and nutrient enrichment threaten the persistence of near shore ecosystems, yet little is known about their combined effects on marine organisms. Here, we show that a threefold increase in nitrogen concentrations, simulating enrichment due to coastal eutrophication or consumer excretions, offset the direct negative effects of near-future OA on calcification and photophysiology of the reef-building crustose coralline alga, Porolithon onkodes Projected near-future pCO2 levels (approx. 850 µatm) decreased calcification by 30% relative to ambient conditions. Conversely, nitrogen enrichment (nitrate + nitrite and ammonium) increased calcification by 90-130% in ambient and high pCO2 treatments, respectively. pCO2 and nitrogen enrichment interactively affected instantaneous photophysiology, with highest relative electron transport rates under high pCO2 and high nitrogen. Nitrogen enrichment alone increased concentrations of the photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll a, phycocyanin and phycoerythrin by approximately 80-450%, regardless of pCO2 These results demonstrate that nutrient enrichment can mediate direct organismal responses to OA. In natural systems, however, such direct benefits may be counteracted by simultaneous increases in negative indirect effects, such as heightened competition. Experiments exploring the effects of multiple stressors are increasingly becoming important for improving our ability to understand the ramifications of local and global change stressors in near shore ecosystems.
Project description:Marine pCO2 enrichment via ocean acidification (OA), upwelling and release from carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities is projected to have devastating impacts on marine biomineralisers and the services they provide. However, empirical studies using stable endpoint pCO2 concentrations find species exhibit variable biological and geochemical responses rather than the expected negative patterns. In addition, the carbonate chemistry of many marine systems is now being observed to be more variable than previously thought. To underpin more robust projections of future OA impacts on marine biomineralisers and their role in ecosystem service provision, we investigate coralline algal responses to realistically variable scenarios of marine pCO2 enrichment. Coralline algae are important in ecosystem function; providing habitats and nursery areas, hosting high biodiversity, stabilizing reef structures and contributing to the carbon cycle. Red coralline marine algae were exposed for 80 days to one of three pH treatments: (i) current pH (control); (ii) low pH (7.7) representing OA change; and (iii) an abrupt drop to low pH (7.7) representing the higher rates of pH change observed at natural vent systems, in areas of upwelling and during CCS releases. We demonstrate that red coralline algae respond differently to the rate and the magnitude of pH change induced by pCO2 enrichment. At low pH, coralline algae survived by increasing their calcification rates. However, when the change to low pH occurred at a fast rate we detected, using Raman spectroscopy, weaknesses in the calcite skeleton, with evidence of dissolution and molecular positional disorder. This suggests that, while coralline algae will continue to calcify, they may be structurally weakened, putting at risk the ecosystem services they provide. Notwithstanding evolutionary adaptation, the ability of coralline algae to cope with OA may thus be determined primarily by the rate, rather than magnitude, at which pCO2 enrichment occurs.