Ocean acidification (the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere), is affecting the formation of the skeleton of coralline algae which play an important part in marine biodiversity, new research from the University of Bristol, UK has found.
Coralline red algae form maerl beds which provide important habitat in shallow waters, including the UK coastal shelf. Maerl hosts a high diversity of organisms by providing habitats, shelter and nursery areas for, amongst others, fish larvae and young scallops. Both coralline algae and the maerl beds they generate are protected by national and international regulation as they form biodiversity hotspots and support fisheries.
The skeletal structure of coralline algae is composed of high- magnesium calcite, the most soluble form of calcium carbonate, and is therefore potentially vulnerable to the change in carbonate chemistry resulting from the absorption of man-made CO2 by the ocean.
Previous Bristol-led research has shown that ocean acidification affects coralline algae by reducing the thickness of their cell walls and thus their structural strength, crucial for withstanding natural stresses such as wave movement or grazing. It also showed that, given enough time, the algae can acclimatise and continue to grow.
In a new study, published today in Scientific Reports, Dr Federica Ragazzola and colleagues assessed this new growth to see whether it is of the same quality as before and hence whether coralline algae are able to grow as strong a skeleton under climate change conditions. The strength of this skeletal structure is important as it impacts the ability of alga to provide shelter for other species.
The researchers found that, under ocean acidification, the chemical composition of the skeleton is changing, making it potentially more brittle.
Professor Daniela Schmidt, Head of Global Change at the Cabot Institute and senior author of the study said: "Our research suggests that in the near future these organisms are not sufficiently calcified to provide habitat for other species. Coralline algae support a huge variety of marine life, with more than 460 species associated with their beds including economically important species such as scallops.
"While a number of studies have now shown that coralline algae can continue to grow even in challenging environmental conditions, it is fundamentally important that we combine these physiological studies with potential impacts on the structural integrity of the skeleton and its consequences to habitat formation."
'Impact of high CO2 on the geochemistry of the coralline algae Lithothamnion glaciale' by F. Ragazzola, L.C. Foster, C.J. Jones, T B. Scott, J. Fietzke, Matt R. Kilburn and D.N. Schmidt in Scientific Reports
Hannah Johnson | EurekAlert!
Six-decade-old space mystery solved with shoebox-sized satellite called a CubeSat
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation
NSF-funded researchers find that ice sheet is dynamic and has repeatedly grown and shrunk
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences