Morphological plasticity of the coral skeleton under CO2-driven seawater acidification


Ocean acidification causes corals to calcify at reduced rates, but current understanding of the underlying processes is limited. Here, we conduct a mechanistic study into how seawater acidification alters skeletal growth of the coral Stylophora pistillata. Reductions in colony calcification rates are manifested as increases in skeletal porosity at lower pH, while linear extension of skeletons remains unchanged. Inspection of the microstructure of skeletons and measurements of pH at the site of calcification indicate that dissolution is not responsible for changes in skeletal porosity. Instead, changes occur by enlargement of corallite-calyxes and thinning of associated skeletal elements, constituting a modification in skeleton architecture. We also detect increases in the organic matrix protein content of skeletons formed under lower pH. Overall, our study reveals that seawater acidification not only causes decreases in calcification, but can also cause morphological change of the coral skeleton to a more porous and potentially fragile phenotype.

In order to allow full comparability with other ocean acidification data sets, the R package seacarb (Gattuso et al, 2015) was used to compute a complete and consistent set of carbonate system variables, as described by Nisumaa et al. (2010). In this dataset the original values were archived in addition with the recalculated parameters (see related PI). The date of carbonate chemistry calculation is 2015-09-24.

Supplement to: Tambutté, Eric; Venn, Alexander A; Holcomb, Michael; Segonds, Natacha; Techer, Nathalie; Zoccola, Didier; Allemand, Denis; Tambutté, Sylvie (2015): Morphological plasticity of the coral skeleton under CO2-driven seawater acidification. Nature Communications, 6, 7368

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Creator Tambutté, Eric ORCID logo; Venn, Alexander A ORCID logo; Holcomb, Michael; Segonds, Natacha; Techer, Nathalie; Zoccola, Didier ORCID logo; Allemand, Denis; Tambutté, Sylvie ORCID logo
Publisher PANGAEA
Contributor Yang, Yan
Publication Year 2015
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported;
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset; Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 464 data points
Discipline Earth System Research