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Trace element profiles of the sea anemone Anemonia viridis living nearby a natural CO2 vent

September 22, 2014

Ocean acidification (OA) is not an isolated threat, but acts in concert with other impacts on ecosystems and species. Coastal marine invertebrates will have to face the synergistic interactions of OA with other global and local stressors. One local factor, common in coastal environments, is trace element contamination. CO2 vent sites are extensively studied in the context of OA and are often considered analogous to the oceans in the next few decades. The CO2 vent found at Levante Bay (Vulcano, NE Sicily, Italy) also releases high concentrations of trace elements to its surrounding seawater, and is therefore a unique site to examine the effects of long-term exposure of nearby organisms to high pCO2 and trace element enrichment in situ. The sea anemoneAnemonia viridis is prevalent next to the Vulcano vent and does not show signs of trace element poisoning/stress. The aim of our study was to compare A. viridis trace element profiles and compartmentalization between high pCO2 and control environments. Rather than examining whole anemone tissue, we analyzed two different body compartments—the pedal disc and the tentacles, and also examined the distribution of trace elements in the tentacles between the animal and the symbiotic algae. We found dramatic changes in trace element tissue concentrations between the high pCO2/high trace element and control sites, with strong accumulation of iron, lead, copper and cobalt, but decreased concentrations of cadmium, zinc and arsenic proximate to the vent. The pedal disc contained substantially more trace elements than the anemone’s tentacles, suggesting the pedal disc may serve as a detoxification/storage site for excess trace elements. Within the tentacles, the various trace elements displayed different partitioning patterns between animal tissue and algal symbionts. At both sites iron was found primarily in the algae, whereas cadmium, zinc and arsenic were primarily found in the animal tissue. Our data suggests that A. viridis regulates its internal trace element concentrations by compartmentalization and excretion and that these features contribute to its resilience and potential success at the trace element-rich high pCO2 vent.

Horwitz R, Borell EM, Fine M, Shaked Y, 2014: Trace element profiles of the sea anemone Anemonia viridis living nearby a natural CO2 vent, PeerJ2:e538, doi:10.7717/peerj.538. Article.

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