Coralline algae (Rhodophyta) play a key role in promoting settlement of other benthic organisms, being the food source for herbivores, being involved in the stabilization of reef networks, and in carbonate production. They are considered a vulnerable group to ocean acidification due to the potential dissolution of their high-Mg calcite skeleton at lower pH. Nevertheless, different species of coralline algae showed different responses to low-pH/high-pCO2 environment. Here, we studied the physiological response of Jania rubens to the pH condition predicted for the year 2100. We used a natural CO2 vent system as natural laboratory to transplant J. rubens from pH 8.1–7.5 for 3 weeks. Maximal PSII photochemical efficiency showed a significant reduction in transplanted thalli at low pH (7.5-T) compared to other conditions; consistent with that result, also the pigments involved in the light-harvesting spectrum of J. rubens (i.e., chlorophylls, carotenoids, and phycobilins), exhibited a significant decrease under water acidification, highlighting the strong sensitivity of this species to the environmental change. A major understanding of the response of coralline algae at high CO2 will go through the impact of OA on benthic ecosystems in the next future. This contribution is the written, peer-reviewed version of a paper presented at the Conference “Changes and Crises in the Mediterranean Sea” held at Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome on October 17, 2017.
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We are grateful to the native English speaker Mrs. Rosanna Messina (SZN) for the careful language editing of the manuscript.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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