Baltic Sea phytoplankton in a changing environment
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Future climate scenarios in the Baltic Sea project increasing sea surface temperature, as well as increasing precipitation and river runoff resulting in decreased salinity. These changes can severely impact the dynamics and function of brackish water communities, specifically phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are a significant source of organic matter to other trophic levels, and some species can be toxic. Their response to future climate conditions is of great relevance for the health of humans and aquatic ecosystems. The aim of this thesis was to assess the potential for climate-induced changes, such as decreasing salinity, to affect phytoplankton dynamics, physiology and chemical profiles in the Baltic Sea.
Phytoplankton successional patterns in the Baltic Proper consist of a spring bloom where diatoms and dinoflagellates co-occur and a summer bloom dominated by filamentous/colonial cyanobacteria. The consensus is that future warmer conditions will promote filamentous/colonial cyanobacteria blooms. This thesis shows that phytoplankton biomass in the spring bloom was lower in years with milder winters compared with cold winters. This suggests that in terms of annual carbon export to higher trophic levels, loss of biomass from the spring bloom is unlikely to be compensated by summer cyanobacteria. High frequency sampling of phytoplankton performed in this thesis revealed a strong relationship between the dynamics of pico- and filamentous cyanobacteria. Large genetic diversity was found in cyanobacterial populations with high niche differentiation among the same species. At community level, high temperature and low salinity were the main factors shaping the summer cyanobacterial composition. These conditions may promote the predominance of opportunistic filamentous cyanobacteria, e.g. Nodularia spumigena. This species produces various bioactive compounds, including non-ribosomal peptides such as the hepatotoxin nodularin. In this work, N. spumigena subpopulations evolved different physiological strategies, including chemical profiles, to cope with salinity stress. This high phenotypic plasticity ensures survival in future climate conditions. Under salinity stress, some subpopulations displayed shorter filaments as a trade-off. This indicates that the future freshening of the Baltic Sea may promote grazing on filamentous cyanobacteria and modify carbon flows in the ecosystem. In this thesis, Baltic N. spumigena chemotypes and genotypes grouped into two main clusters without influence of geographical origin. Thus, chemical profiling can be used to explore conspecific diversity in closely genetically related N. spumigena subpopulations.
Overall, this thesis has significantly expanded the knowledge on phytoplankton community and population responses to short- and long-term environmental changes, relevant to project the impacts of future climate conditions in the Baltic Sea.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2016. , 160 p.
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 267/2016
phytoplankton ecology, cyanobacteria, dynamics, environmental factors, successional patterns, interactions, life strategies, non-ribosomal peptides, diversity, nodularin, N. spumigena
Research subject Ecology, Aquatic Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-57860ISBN: 978-91-88357-43-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-57860DiVA: diva2:1045521
2016-11-25, Fullriggaren, Sjöfartshögskolan, Landgången 4, Kalmar, 09:30 (English)
Berman-Frank, Ilana, Professor
Legrand, Catherine, Professor
FunderEcosystem dynamics in the Baltic Sea in a changing climate perspective - ECOCHANGESwedish Institute
List of papers