The combined effect of pH and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations on the physiology of plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum and its cryptophyte prey

Christine Schultz Yde Eriksen, Melanie Desmaret Walli, Dedmer B. Van de Waal, Nico R. Helmsing, Emma Ove Dahl, Helle Sørensen, Per Juel Hansen* (Corresponding author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Ocean acidification is caused by rising atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and involves a lowering of pH combined with increased concentrations of CO2 and dissolved in organic carbon in ocean waters. Many studies investigated the consequences of these combined changes on marine phytoplankton, yet only few attempted to separate the effects of decreased pH and increased pCO2. Moreover, studies typically target photoautotrophic phytoplankton, while little is known of plastidic protists that depend on the ingestion of plastids from their prey. Therefore, we studied the separate and interactive effects of pH and DIC levels on the plastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum, which is known to form red tides in coastal waters worldwide. Also, we tested the effects on their prey, which typically are cryptophytes belonging to the Teleaulax/Plagioslemis/Geminigera species complex. These cryptophytes not only serve as food for the ciliate, but also as a supplier of chloroplasts and prey nuclei. We exposed M. rubrum and the two cryptophyte species, T. acuta, T. amphioxeia to different pH (6.8 - 8) and DIC levels (∼ 6.5 - 26 mg C L-1) and assessed their growth and photosynthetic rates, and cellular chlorophyll a and elemental contents. Our findings did not show consistent significant effects across the ranges in pH and/or DIC, except for M. rubrum, for which growth was negatively affected only by the lowest pH of 6.8 combined with lower DIC concentrations. It thus seems that M. rubrum is largely resilient to changes in pH and DIC, and its blooms may not be strongly impacted by the changes in ocean carbonate chemistry projected for the end of the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102509
JournalHarmful Algae
Volume129
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Acidification
  • DIC
  • Mesodinium rubrum
  • pH
  • Teleaulax

Research theme

  • Climate change

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