How global warming is changing the biodiversity of algal communities

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New research published in the journal Nature Communications points to the Role of Climate Change in Abrupt Change to important algae communities in the oceans. Scientists determine that the warming hemisphere is expected to shift towards the poles over the next 100 years.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute suggest that the gradual change in microbial diversity may be more abrupt if warming continues and reaches a breaking point – “wherever the annual average upper ocean temperature is around 15 degrees and where the water is cold and warm separates “- with the UK as one of the areas most likely to have a major impact.

However, the team found that the abrupt changes could be stopped if we were also quick in combat Climate change.

Algal blooms and their contribution to the healthy balance of the ocean

“Algae are essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem to balance marine life. By absorbing energy from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, they produce organic compounds that marine life can live on, ”said Prof. Thomas Mock of the UEA School of Environmental Sciences.

“These organisms underpin some of the largest food webs on earth and fuel global biogeochemical cycles.

According to the professor, the algae communities are “responsible for at least 20 percent of the annual global carbon fixation”. Therefore, if the temperature changes in marine ecosystems, it could have an impact on the algae on which our marine biodiversity depends.

“We wanted to better understand how the climate crisis is affecting algae from the Arctic to the Antarctic around the world.”

The study was led by scientists from the UEA in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute (JGI, US) of the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Earlham Institute (UK) and for more than 10 years by an international team of 32 researchers from different countries Countries carried out institutions such as the University of Exeter in Great Britain and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

Also read: Human activities blamed for an unusual increase in molecular hydrogen in the atmosphere

How the climate crisis is affecting algae around the world

With an initial pole-to-pole analysis, the team wanted to find out how algae (Eukaryotic phytoplankton) and their expressed genes are geographically distributed in the oceans, as well as how their gene activity changes under certain environmental conditions.

“Our results provide new insights into how changing environmental conditions correlate with changes in biodiversity depending on large-scale environmental fluctuations and disturbances. This knowledge is essential for predicting the consequences of global warming and can therefore guide environmental management, ”explained Prof. Mock.

“We can expect the marine systems around the UK and other countries at this latitude to be severely affected, and more suddenly than previously thought.”

He found that the greatest change in the ecosystem occurs when marine microalgal communities and their associated bacteria are replaced with their counterparts in warm water.

The co-authors added several insights into the role of DNA sequencing technologies in understanding oceanic ecosystems.

However, Prof. Mock reveals that her understanding of environmental conditions is limited to how it is responsible for large-scale differences between local communities of species from pole to pole.

Also read: “Game of Thrones” ice wall towers over the Scottish city during the Ice Age

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