MEPS 575:31-42 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12197

Phytoplankton interactions can alter species response to present and future CO2 concentrations

Eduardo Sampaio1,3,*, Francesca Gallo1, Kai G. Schulz2, Eduardo B. Azevedo1, Joana Barcelos e Ramos1

1Centre of Climate, Meteorology and Global Change of the University of the Azores and the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Research and Technology, Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal
2Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry, School of Environment Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Lismore, New South Wales 2480, Australia
3MARE - Marine Environmental Sciences Centre & Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Nossa Senhora do Cabo 939, Cascais 2750-374, Portugal
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolution in seawater and has the potential to impact marine phytoplankton. Although community composition and species interactions may be affected, few studies have taken the latter into account. Here, we assessed how species interactions and competition shape physiological responses by testing monospecific and mixed cultures of (1) the haptophyte Phaeocystis globosa and the chain-forming diatoms Chaetoceros sp. and Asterionellopsis glacialis under present CO2 levels, and (2) Chaetoceros sp. and P. globosa under increasing CO2. The interactions established between the 3 phytoplankton cultures were species- and abundance-dependent. The 2 diatoms did not interact; however, in the presence of P. globosa the growth rates of A. glacialis decreased and those of Chaetoceros sp. increased (depending on a Chaetoceros sp. abundance threshold). Conversely, when Chaetoceros sp. was reasonably abundant, P. globosa was also positively affected (alternating between an abundance/biomass-dependent commensalistic and/or mutualistic interaction). Under enhanced CO2 concentrations, the responses of Chaetoceros sp. and P. globosa mixed cultures were altered, mainly due to Chaetoceros sp. showing a physiological optimum at higher CO2 concentrations than P. globosa. While P. globosa was hindered by increased CO2, Chaetoceros sp. registered augmentation of growth rates, chain length and cellular elemental quotas up to ~750 µatm. Our work emphasizes the role of species interactions when addressing effects of enhanced CO2 on marine phytoplankton. Species-specific response trends to increasing CO2 concentrations revealed significant alterations to species interaction and biomass build-up, which may consequently affect future phytoplankton communities’ composition and dynamics.


KEY WORDS: Species interaction · Phytoplankton · CO2 · Biomass ratios · Growth rates · Cellular quotas · Chain length


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Cite this article as: Sampaio E, Gallo F, Schulz KG, Azevedo EB, Barcelos e Ramos J (2017) Phytoplankton interactions can alter species response to present and future CO2 concentrations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 575:31-42. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12197

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