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Open Access Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 41(5)

Photophysiological responses of marine diatoms to elevated CO2 and decreased pH: a review

Kunshan Gao A C and Douglas A. Campbell B

A State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, 361005 Xiamen, China.
B Department of Biology, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB E4L 1G7, Canada.
C Corresponding author. Email: ksgao@xmu.edu.cn

Functional Plant Biology 41(5) 449-459 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP13247
Submitted: 21 August 2013  Accepted: 24 December 2013   Published: 13 February 2014


 
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Abstract

Diatoms dominate nearly half of current oceanic productivity, so their responses to ocean acidification are of general concern regarding future oceanic carbon sequestration. Community, mesocosm and laboratory studies show a range of diatom growth and photophysiological responses to increasing pCO2. Nearly 20 studies on effects of elevated pCO2 on diatoms have shown stimulations, no effects or inhibitions of growth rates. These differential responses could result from differences in experimental setups, cell densities, levels of light and temperature, but also from taxon-specific physiology. Generally, ocean acidification treatments of lowered pH with elevated CO2 stimulate diatom growth under low to moderate levels of light, but lead to growth inhibition when combined with excess light. Additionally, diatom cell sizes and their co-varying metabolic rates can influence responses to increasing pCO2 and decreasing pH, although cell size effects are confounded with taxonomic specificities in cell structures and metabolism. Here we summarise known diatom growth and photophysiological responses to increasing pCO2 and decreasing pH, and discuss some reasons for the diverse responses observed across studies.

Additional keywords: Bacillariophyceae, CO2, diatom, ocean acidification, photoinhibition, photosynthesis.


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