Temperature effects on sinking velocity of different Emiliania huxleyi strains

Anaid Rosas-Navarro, Gerald Langer, Patrizia Ziveri

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© 2018 Rosas-Navarro et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The sinking properties of three strains of Emiliania huxleyi in response to temperature changes were examined. We used a recently proposed approach to calculate sinking velocities from coccosphere architecture, which has the advantage to be applicable not only to culture samples, but also to field samples including fossil material. Our data show that temperature in the sub-optimal range impacts sinking velocity of E. huxleyi. This response is widespread among strains isolated in different locations and moreover comparatively predictable, as indicated by the similar slopes of the linear regressions. Sinking velocity was positively correlated to temperature as well as individual cell PIC/POC over the sub-optimum to optimum temperature range in all strains. In the context of climate change our data point to an important influence of global warming on sinking velocities. It has recently been shown that seawater acidification has no effect on sinking velocity of a Mediterranean E. huxleyi strain, while nutrient limitation seems to have a small negative effect on sinking velocity. Given that warming, acidification, and lowered nutrient availability will occur simultaneously under climate change scenarios, the question is what the net effect of different influential factors will be. For example, will the effects of warming and nutrient limitation cancel? This question cannot be answered conclusively but analyses of field samples in addition to laboratory culture studies will improve predictions because in field samples multi-factor influences and even evolutionary changes are not excluded. As mentioned above, the approach of determining sinking rate followed here is applicable to field samples. Future studies could use it to analyse not only seasonal and geographic patterns but also changes in sinking velocity over geological time scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0194386
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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