WP2: Potential ecological consequences of climate change on algal-pathogen interactions

The last phase of the project is designed to analyse potential effects of climate change on viral infections in kelp. Changes that our sea ecosystems experience due to the global rise in temperature include species shifts and migrations. Such consequences have already been observed in kelp from the northeast Atlantic coast, where the southern distribution boundaries have shifted northwards.

 

We predict that higher temperatures diminish the amount of carbon that is assimilated and transported through kelp forests and increase viral infections. However, we need experimental measurements of these infection rates, and possible host responses in order to investigate whether high temperature increases susceptibility to viral infection and decrease the fitness performance and reproductive output under viral infection. 

During the first year of sampling, diverse physicochemical parameters of the water will be measured (e.g. temperature, salinity and hydrodynamics) at the same time the samples are collected. Correlations between these variables and the presence of viruses in the samples from all locations will be done in order to determinate if temperature gradients, in this case, increase or decrease viral presence. Experimental tests will be also done with reproductive kelp, previously scanned for viruses.

 

In WP2 we will obtain:

  1. Empirical data of viral infectivity under increased temperatures,

  2. Empirical data related to host’s performance, in terms of gametophyte survival and growth, under increased temperatures when infected and when not,

  3. Industry support related to seaweed aquaculture management for future climate change scenarios.

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