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MEPS 658:59-74 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13561

Short-term responses to ocean acidification: effects on relative abundance of eukaryotic plankton from the tropical Timor Sea

Janina Rahlff1,6,*, Sahar Khodami2, Lisa Voskuhl3, Matthew P. Humphreys4, Christian Stolle1,5,7, Pedro Martinez Arbizu2, Oliver Wurl1, Mariana Ribas-Ribas1

1Center for Marine Sensors, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Schleusenstraße 1, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
2Senckenberg am Meer, German Center for Marine Biodiversity Research, Südstrand 44, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
3Aquatic Microbiology, Department of Chemistry, Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology (EMB), University of Duisburg-Essen, Universitätsstraße 5, 45141 Essen, Germany
4Department of Ocean Systems (OCS), NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
5Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research (IOW), Seestraße 15, 18119 Rostock, Germany
6Present address: Group for Aquatic Microbial Ecology (GAME), Department of Chemistry, Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology (EMB), University of Duisburg-Essen, Universitätsstraße 5, 45141 Essen, Germany
7Present address: Project management Jülich, Schweriner Straße 44, 18069 Rostock, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions drive climate change and pose one of the major challenges of our century. The effects of increased CO2 in the form of ocean acidification (OA) on the communities of marine planktonic eukaryotes in tropical regions such as the Timor Sea are barely understood. Here, we show the effects of high CO2 (mean ± SD pCO2 = 1823 ± 161 μatm and pHT = 7.46 ± 0.05) versus in situ CO2 (504 ± 42 µatm, 7.95 ± 0.04) seawater on the community composition of marine planktonic eukaryotes after 3 and 48 h of treatment exposure in a shipboard microcosm experiment. Illumina sequencing of the V9 hypervariable region of 18S rRNA (gene) was used to study the eukaryotic community composition. Increased CO2 significantly suppressed the relative abundances of different eukaryotic operational taxonomic units (OTUs), including important primary producers, although the chlorophyll a concentration remained constant. OA effects on eukaryotes were consistent between total (DNA-based) and active (cDNA-based) taxa after 48 h, e.g. for the diatoms Trieres chinensis and Stephanopyxis turris. Effects of OA on the relative abundances of OTUs were often species- or even ecotype-specific, and the incubation selectively allowed for detection of the OA-sensitive OTUs that benefitted the most from incubation in a closed bottle, as containment effects on the community structure were evident after 48 h. Many OTUs were adversely affected by sudden decreases of seawater pH, suggesting high sensitivity to OA at the base of the tropical marine biodiversity and difficult-to-predict outcomes for food-web functioning in the future ocean.


KEY WORDS: High CO2 · Low pH · Phytoplankton · Protists · Tropics · Copepods · 18S rRNA sequencing · Ocean acidification


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Cite this article as: Rahlff J, Khodami S, Voskuhl L, Humphreys MP and others (2021) Short-term responses to ocean acidification: effects on relative abundance of eukaryotic plankton from the tropical Timor Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 658:59-74. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13561

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