Posted on OA: 16 Sep 2014 — Schlüter L., Lohbeck K. T., Gutowska M. A., Gröger J. P., Riebesell U. & Reusch T. B. H., in press. Nature Climate Change
Although ocean warming and acidification are recognized as two major anthropogenic perturbations of today’s oceans we know very little about how marine phytoplankton may respond via evolutionary change. We tested for adaptation to ocean warming in combination with ocean acidification in the globally important phytoplankton species Emiliania huxleyi. Temperature adaptation occurred independently of ocean acidification levels. Growth rates were up to 16% higher in populations adapted for one year to warming when assayed at their upper thermal tolerance limit. Particulate inorganic (PIC) and organic (POC) carbon production was restored to values under present-day ocean conditions, owing to adaptive evolution, and were 101% and 55% higher under combined warming and acidification, respectively, than in non-adapted controls. Cells also evolved to a smaller size while they recovered their initial PIC:POC ratio even under elevated CO2. The observed changes in coccolithophore growth, calcite and biomass production, cell size and elemental composition demonstrate the importance of evolutionary processes for phytoplankton performance in a future ocean.
Schlüter L., Lohbeck K. T., Gutowska M. A., Gröger J. P., Riebesell U. & Reusch T. B. H., in press. Adaptation of a globally important coccolithophore to ocean warming and acidification. Nature Climate Change. Article (subscription required).