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The response of marine picoplankton to ocean acidification

Authors

  • Lindsay K. Newbold,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
    2. Civil Engineering and Geosciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
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    • Contributed equally to this work.

  • Anna E. Oliver,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
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    • Contributed equally to this work.

  • Tim Booth,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
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  • Bela Tiwari,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
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  • Todd DeSantis,

    1. Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Cyclotron Lane, Berkley, CA 94720, USA.
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  • Michael Maguire,

    1. Civil Engineering and Geosciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
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  • Gary Andersen,

    1. Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Cyclotron Lane, Berkley, CA 94720, USA.
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  • Christopher J. van der Gast,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
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  • Andrew S. Whiteley

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
      E-mail aswhi@ceh.ac.uk; Tel. +44(0)1491 692640; Fax +44(0)1491 692424.
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E-mail aswhi@ceh.ac.uk; Tel. +44(0)1491 692640; Fax +44(0)1491 692424.

Summary

Since industrialization global CO2 emissions have increased, and as a consequence oceanic pH is predicted to drop by 0.3–0.4 units before the end of the century – a process coined ‘ocean acidification’. Consequently, there is significant interest in how pH changes will affect the ocean's biota and integral processes. We investigated marine picoplankton (0.2–2 µm diameter) community response to predicted end of century CO2 concentrations, via a ‘high-CO2’ (∼ 750 ppm) large-volume (11 000 l) contained seawater mesocosm approach. We found little evidence of changes occurring in bacterial abundance or community composition due to elevated CO2 under both phytoplankton pre-bloom/bloom and post-bloom conditions. In contrast, significant differences were observed between treatments for a number of key picoeukaryote community members. These data suggested a key outcome of ocean acidification is a more rapid exploitation of elevated CO2 levels by photosynthetic picoeukaryotes. Thus, our study indicates the need for a more thorough understanding of picoeukaryote-mediated carbon flow within ocean acidification experiments, both in relation to picoplankton carbon sources, sinks and transfer to higher trophic levels.

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