Marine bacteria unfazed by rising ocean acidification

Marine bacteria unfazed by rising ocean acidification

Bacteria are more resistant to ocean acidification than previously thought, say scientists.

Ocean acidification is one of many problems caused by . Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide that is eventually absorbed by the oceans, making the water more acidic.

The new study, published in Environment Microbiology Reports, shows for the first time that even if reaches the levels predicted for the year 2100, the bacterial community will remain unaffected.

Marine bacteria play important roles in the cycling of carbon – the flux of carbon dioxide (CO2) between the oceans and the atmosphere – so if they were affected by ocean acidification it could have catastrophic consequences,' says Dr Christopher van der Gast of NERC's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, lead researcher on the project.

The team studied the direct responses of to rising carbon dioxide levels by sampling six mesocosms –11,000 litre bags of seawater taken from a fjord in Bergen, Norway.

Carbon dioxide was bubbled through three of these bags and measured how the bacteria responded to the elevated levels. The remaining three bags were used as controls.

'We were expecting to see some evidence of change or at least resilience as a result of elevated carbon dioxide levels,' says van der Gast. 'But what we actually saw was resistance; the bacterial communities barely changed at all.'

'The mesocosm experiment was like hitting the bacterial system with a massive stick. You take bacteria in their current environment, from current carbon levels and then suddenly switch it to the levels 100 years in the future. But it didn't faze them,' van der Gast continues.

He suspects that the resistance of to acidification means they will be able to evolve an even higher level of resilience before 2100, as they get used to higher acid levels.

'Hitting them with a big stick we see a huge capacity for resistance, but over the long term they have an enormous evolutionary capacity, he says. ' Over the next 100 years there will be millions of generations of bacteria, so if we still have a steadily increasing amount of , as is predicted, being absorbed into oceans the bacterial communities will adapt.'

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User comments

Jul 05, 2014
More AGW Scientology of ignorance.
The high probability that these bacteria developed resistance, having experienced such conditions in the past, completely escapes AGW cult "science"

Jul 05, 2014
Life adapts to changing conditions?

Jul 06, 2014
Marine bacteria unfazed by rising ocean acidification

It may be true for bacteria and it doesn't not even surprising to me. The denier of AGW like to brag about it. However, diatoms (the tiny micro-organisms which have calcium carbonate shells and are the first link in the oceans food chain) ARE extremely sensitive to ocean acidification. If you kill the Diatom's the ripple effect up the food change could cause mass fish extinctions. It's always amusing how the AGWdeniers never mention consequences like that of excess CO2.

Jul 07, 2014
So howhot, since you boast that you know the science.
Tell us, at what level of acidity would these Diatoms die?
How much human produced CO2 would this take?
In how many years would this happen?
Lastly, if we did everything the AGW Cult wants, would it stop the glaciers and ice sheets from melting?

Jul 08, 2014
It's a pretty well studied field @Antigore. Just google "at what Ph do diatoms die". It looks like 4.0 to 4.5 but 5.5 makes it hard on the little buggers.

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