Mid- to high-latitude fjordic coastal environments experience naturally variable salinity regimes. Climate projections suggest that freshwater input into the coastal ocean will increase in the future, exposing coastal organisms to further periods of reduced salinity. This study investigated the effect of low salinity on Lithothamnion glaciale, a red coralline alga found in mid- to high-latitude fjordic regions, during a 21-day experiment. Specific measurements included: the intracellular concentration of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP, an algal secondary metabolite and major precursor to the climatically active gas dimethylsulphide), pigment composition and photosynthetic characteristics. No significant difference in intracellular DMSP concentrations was observed between treatments, suggesting that the primary function for DMSP in L. glaciale is not as a compatible solute, perhaps favouring an antioxidant role . Photosynthetic parameters (including pigment composition) exhibited a mixed response, suggesting some degree of photosynthetic resilience to reduced salinity. This study provides evidence of intracellular mechanisms adopted by L. glaciale in response to reduced salinity. This has significant implications for the survival of L. glaciale under a projected freshening scenario and provides organism-level detail to ecosystem-level projected changes should lower-salinity conditions become more frequent and more intense in the future.
Burdett, H. L., Hatton, A. D., & Kamenos, N. A. (2015). Effects of reduced salinity on the photosynthetic characteristics and intracellular DMSP concentrations of the red coralline alga, Lithothamnion glaciale. Marine Biology, 162(5), 1077-1085. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-015-2650-8