Experiment on inter- and intra-specific phenotypic plasticity of three phytoplankton species in response to ocean acidification

Phenotypic plasticity describes the phenotypic adjustment of the same genotype to different environmental conditions and is best described by a reaction norm. We focus on the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on inter - and intraspecific reaction norms of three globally important phytoplankton species (Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, Chaetoceros affinis). Despite significant differences in growth rates between the species, they all showed a high potential for phenotypic buffering (no significant difference in growth rates between ambient and high CO2 condition). Only three coccolithophore genotypes showed a reduced growth in high CO2. Largely diverging responses to high CO2 of single coc-colithophore genotypes compared to the respective mean species responses, however, raise the question if an extrapolation to the population level is possible from single genotype experiments. We therefore compared the mean response of all tested genotypes to a total species response comprising the same genotypes, which was not significantly different in the coccolithophores. Assessing species reac-tion norm to different environmental conditions on short time scale in a genotype-mix could thus reduce sampling effort while increasing predictive power.

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CC BY 4.0