Plankton plays an important role in the ocean's carbon cycle by removing half of all CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and storing it deep under the sea – isolated from the atmosphere for centuries.
Findings published today in the journal Nature Climate Change reveal that water temperature has a direct impact on maintaining the delicate plankton ecosystem of our oceans.
The new research means that ocean warming will impact plankton, and in turn drive a vicious cycle of climate change.
Researchers from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences and the School of Computing Sciences investigated phytoplankton – microscopic plant-like organisms that rely on photosynthesis to reproduce and grow.
Lead researcher Dr Thomas Mock, said: "Phytoplankton, including micro-algae, are responsible for half of the carbon dioxide that is naturally removed from the atmosphere. As well as being vital to climate control, it also creates enough oxygen for every other breath we take, and forms the base of the food chain for fisheries so it is incredibly important for food security.
"Previous studies have shown that phytoplankton communities respond to global warming by changes in diversity and productivity. But with our study we show that warmer temperatures directly impact the chemical cycles in plankton, which has not been shown before."
Collaborators from the University of Exeter, who are co-authors of this study, developed computer generated models to create a global ecosystem model that took into account world ocean temperatures, 1.5 million plankton DNA sequences taken from samples, and biochemical data.
"We found that temperature plays a critical role in driving the cycling of chemicals in marine micro-algae. It affects these reactions as much as nutrients and light, which was not known before," said Dr Mock.
"Under warmer temperatures, marine micro-algae do not seem to produce as many ribosomes as under lower temperatures. Ribosomes join up the building blocks of proteins in cells. They are rich in phosphorous and if they are being reduced, this will produce higher ratios of nitrogen compared to phosphorous, increasing the demand for nitrogen in the oceans.
"This will eventually lead to a greater prevalence of blue-green algae called cyanobacteria which fix atmospheric nitrogen," he added.
The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), 454 Life Sciences (Roche), the Leverhulme Trust, the European Union (FP7), the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Earth and Life Systems Alliance (ELSA).
'The impact of temperature on marine phytoplankton resource allocation and metabolism' by A Toseland, SJ Daines, JR Clark, A Kirkham, J Strauss, C Uhlig, TM Lenton, K Valentin, GA Pearson, V Moulton and T Mock is published in Nature Climate Change.
Lisa Horton | EurekAlert!
Species may appear deceptively resilient to climate change
24.11.2017 | University of California - Davis
Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons
The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences