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The effect of chronic and acute low pH on the intracellular DMSP production and epithelial cell morphology of red coralline algae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Heidi L. Burdett, Elena Aloisio, Piero Calosi, Helen S. Findlay, Stephen Widdicombe, Angela D. Hatton, Nicholas A. Kamenos


The release of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) by marine algae has major impacts on the global sulphur cycle and may influence local climate through the formation of dimethylsulphide (DMS). However, the effect of global change on DMSP/DMS (DMS(P)) production by algae is not well understood. This study examined the effect of low pH on DMS(P) production and epithelial cell morphology of the free-living red coralline alga Lithothamnion glaciale. Three pH treatments were used in the 80-day experiment: (1) current pH level (8.18, control), (2) low, chronic pH representing a 2100 ocean acidification (OA) scenario (7.70) and (3) low, acute pH (7.75, with a 3-day spike to 6.47), representing acute variable conditions that might be associated with leaks from carbon capture and storage infrastructure, at CO2 vent sites or in areas of upwelling. DMS(P) production was not significantly enhanced under low, stable pH conditions, indicating that red coralline algae may have some resilience to OA. However, intracellular and water column DMS(P) concentrations were significantly higher than the control when pH was acutely spiked. Cracks were observed between the cell walls of the algal skeleton in both low pH treatments. It is proposed that this structural change may cause membrane damage that allows DMS(P) to leak from the cells into the water column, with subsequent implications for the cycling of DMS(P) in coralline algae habitats.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-763
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Biology Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Research areas

  • Carbon dioxide, climate change, dimethylsulphide, maerl, ocean acidification, rhodolith, OCEAN ACIDIFICATION, CARBON-DIOXIDE, MARINE-ALGAE, SEAWATER, WATER, ACID, DIMETHYLSULFIDE, DISSOCIATION, TEMPERATURE, CONSTANTS

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    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 75924422