Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
Research article
09 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 09 Oct 2013

Synergism between elevated pCO2 and temperature on the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia lecointei

A. Torstensson, M. Hedblom, J. Andersson, M. X. Andersson, and A. Wulff

Abstract. Polar oceans are particularly susceptible to ocean acidification and warming. Diatoms play a significant role in sea ice biogeochemistry and provide an important food source to grazers in ice-covered oceans, especially during early spring. However, the ecophysiology of ice-living organisms has received little attention in terms of ocean acidification. In this study, the synergism between temperature and partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) was investigated in relationship to the optimal growth temperature of the Antarctic sea ice diatom Nitzschia lecointei. Diatoms were kept in cultures at controlled levels of pCO2 (∼390 and ∼960 μatm) and temperature (−1.8 and 2.5 °C) for 14 days. Synergism between temperature and pCO2 was detected in growth rate and acyl lipid fatty acid (FA) content. Optimal growth rate was observed around 5 °C in a separate experiment. Carbon enrichment only promoted (6%) growth rate closer to the optimal growth, but not at the control temperature (−1.8 °C). At −1.8 °C and at ∼960 μatm pCO2, the total FA content was reduced relative to the ∼390 μatm treatment, although no difference between pCO2 treatments was observed at 2.5 °C. A large proportion (97%) of the total FAs comprised on average of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) at −1.8 °C. Cellular PUFA content was reduced at ∼960 relative to ∼390 μatm pCO2. Effects of carbon enrichment may be different depending on ocean warming scenario or season, e.g. reduced cellular FA content in response to elevated CO2 at low temperatures only, reflected as reduced food quality for higher trophic levels. Synergy between warming and acidification may be particularly important in polar areas since a narrow thermal window generally limits cold-water organisms.

Final-revised paper