Elevated CO<inf>2</inf> leads to enhanced photosynthesis but decreased growth in early life stages of reef building coralline algae

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Frontiers in Marine Science, 2019, 5 (JAN)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 Ordoñez, Wangpraseurt, Lyndby, Kühl and Diaz-Pulido. Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are key organisms in coral reef ecosystems, where they contribute to reef building and substrate stabilization. While ocean acidification due to increasing CO2can affect the biology, physiology and ecology of fully developed CCA, the impacts of elevated CO2on the early life stages of CCA are much less explored. We assessed the photosynthetic activity and growth of 10-day-old recruits of the reef-building crustose coralline alga Porolithon cf. onkodes exposed to ambient and enhanced CO2seawater concentration causing a downward shift in pH of ~0.3 units. Growth of the CCA was estimated using measurements of crust thickness and marginal expansion, while photosynthetic activity was studied with O2microsensors. We found that elevated seawater CO2enhanced gross photosynthesis and respiration, but significantly reduced vertical and marginal growth of the early life stages of P. cf. onkodes. Elevated CO2stimulated photosynthesis, particularly at high irradiance, likely due to increased availability of CO2, but this increase did not translate into increased algal growth as expected, suggesting a decoupling of these two processes under ocean acidification scenarios. This study confirms the sensitivity of early stages of CCA to elevated CO2and identifies complexities in the physiological processes underlying the decreased growth and abundance in these important coral reef builders upon ocean acidification.
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