Rapid evolution of a calcareous microalgae

ScienceDaily | 2/14/2018 | Staff
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The results have now been published in the international journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere increases continuously. As a consequence, an increasing amount of CO2 dissolves in the ocean, where it reacts to carbonic acid and acidifies the seawater. As ocean acidification progresses steadily, scientists aim to assess the implications of this process for marine ecosystems.

Team - Researchers - GEOMAR - Helmholtz - Centre

A team of researchers from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel has for the first time examined the adaptability of the calcified alga Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification in a combination of laboratory and field experiments. "Some of the algae lineages in the experiment showed an extremely rapid change in their ecological fitness. We did not expect that to happen," says lead author Dr. Lennart Bach from GEOMAR. The study has been published recently in the international journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The current experiments were preceded by years of laboratory tests with Emiliania huxleyi at the GEOMAR in Kiel. Dr. Kai Lohbeck, co-author of the new study, had been keeping the algae under increased CO2 concentrations. Three years later, it became apparent that Emiliania huxleyi coped better with acidification than at the beginning of the experiment. "For us, that was a clear indication for the adaptability of the algae. But the experiment took place under laboratory conditions. Therefore, the question remained whether the evolutionary adaptation during an isolated lab experiment would bring an advantage also under natural conditions," says Lohbeck.

Opportunity - Question - Spring - Research - Group

The opportunity to investigate this question emerged in the spring of 2013. The research group of...
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