Seagrasses are globally declining and often their loss is due to synergies among stressors. We investigated the interactive effects of eutrophication and burial on the Mediterranean seagrass, Posidonia oceanica. A field experiment was conducted to estimate whether shoot survival depends on the interactive effects of three levels of intensity of both stressors and to identify early changes in plants (i.e., morphological, physiological and biochemical, and expression of stress-related genes) that may serve to detect signals of imminent shoot density collapse. Sediment burial and nutrient enrichment produced interactive effects on P. oceanica shoot survival, as high nutrient levels had the potential to accelerate the regression of the seagrass exposed to high burial (HB). After 11 weeks, HB in combination with either high or medium nutrient enrichment caused a shoot loss of about 60%. Changes in morphology were poor predictors of the seagrass decline. Likewise, few biochemical variables were associated with P. oceanica survival (the phenolics, ORAC and leaf δ34S). In contrast, the expression of target genes had the highest correlation with plant survival: photosynthetic genes (ATPa, psbD and psbA) were up-regulated in response to high burial, while carbon metabolism genes (CA-chl, PGK and GADPH) were down-regulated. Therefore, die-offs due to high sedimentation rate in eutrophic areas can only be anticipated by altered expression of stress-related genes that may warn the imminent seagrass collapse. Management of local stressors, such as nutrient pollution, may enhance seagrass resilience in the face of the intensification of extreme climate events, such as floods.

Seagrass collapse due to synergistic stressors is not anticipated by phenological changes

Bulleri, Fabio
Ultimo
2018-01-01

Abstract

Seagrasses are globally declining and often their loss is due to synergies among stressors. We investigated the interactive effects of eutrophication and burial on the Mediterranean seagrass, Posidonia oceanica. A field experiment was conducted to estimate whether shoot survival depends on the interactive effects of three levels of intensity of both stressors and to identify early changes in plants (i.e., morphological, physiological and biochemical, and expression of stress-related genes) that may serve to detect signals of imminent shoot density collapse. Sediment burial and nutrient enrichment produced interactive effects on P. oceanica shoot survival, as high nutrient levels had the potential to accelerate the regression of the seagrass exposed to high burial (HB). After 11 weeks, HB in combination with either high or medium nutrient enrichment caused a shoot loss of about 60%. Changes in morphology were poor predictors of the seagrass decline. Likewise, few biochemical variables were associated with P. oceanica survival (the phenolics, ORAC and leaf δ34S). In contrast, the expression of target genes had the highest correlation with plant survival: photosynthetic genes (ATPa, psbD and psbA) were up-regulated in response to high burial, while carbon metabolism genes (CA-chl, PGK and GADPH) were down-regulated. Therefore, die-offs due to high sedimentation rate in eutrophic areas can only be anticipated by altered expression of stress-related genes that may warn the imminent seagrass collapse. Management of local stressors, such as nutrient pollution, may enhance seagrass resilience in the face of the intensification of extreme climate events, such as floods.
2018
Ceccherelli, Giulia; Oliva, Silvia; Pinna, Stefania; Piazzi, Luigi; Procaccini, Gabriele; Marin-Guirao, Lazaro; Dattolo, Emanuela; Gallia, Roberto; la Manna, Gabriella; Gennaro, Paola; Costa, Monya M.; Barrote, Isabel; Silva, João; Bulleri, Fabio
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/909571
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