Effects of ocean acidification and temperature increases on the photosynthesis of tropical reef calcified macroalgae

Fernando Scherner, Cristiano Macedo Pereira, Gustavo Duarte, Paulo Antunes Horta, Clovis Barreira E Castro, José Bonomi Barufi, Sonia Maria Barreto Pereira

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33 Scopus citations


Climate change is a global phenomenon that is considered an important threat to marine ecosystems. Ocean acidification and increased seawater temperatures are among the consequences of this phenomenon. The comprehension of the effects of these alterations on marine organisms, in particular on calcified macroalgae, is still modest despite its great importance. There are evidences that macroalgae inhabiting highly variable environments are relatively resilient to such changes. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate experimentally the effects of CO2-driven ocean acidification and temperature rises on the photosynthesis of calcified macroalgae inhabiting the intertidal region, a highly variable environment. The experiments were performed in a reef mesocosm in a tropical region on the Brazilian coast, using three species of frondose calcifying macroalgae (Halimeda cuneata, Padina gymnospora, and Tricleocarpa cylindrica) and crustose coralline algae. The acidification experiment consisted of three treatments with pH levels below those occurring in the region (-0.3, -0.6, -0.9). For the temperature experiment, three temperature levels above those occurring naturally in the region (+1, +2, +4°C) were determined. The results of the acidification experiment indicate an increase on the optimum quantum yield by T. cylindrica and a decline of this parameter by coralline algae, although both only occurred at the extreme acidification treatment (-0.9). The energy dissipation mechanisms of these algae were also altered at this extreme condition. Significant effects of the temperature experiment were limited to an enhancement of the photosynthetic performance by H. cuneata although only at a modest temperature increase (+1°C). In general, the results indicate a possible photosynthetic adaptation and/or acclimation of the studied macroalgae to the expected future ocean acidification and temperature rises, as separate factors. Such relative resilience may be a result of the highly variable environment they inhabit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0154844
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge “Projeto Coral Vivo” and its sponsors (Petrobras, through the Petrobras Socioenvironmental Program, and Arraial d'Ajuda Eco Parque) for logistical and financial support. F.S. was granted by the Brazilian Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Level Personnel (CAPES).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Scherner 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.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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