Researchers at the University of Sydney and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science have found that climate change could lead to declines of underwater kelp forests through impacts on their microbiome.
In humans, it has been observed that changes in the microbes in the gut can result in poor health. A similar process happens in kelp. Predicted ocean warming and acidification can change microbes on the kelp surface, leading to disease and potentially putting fisheries at risk.
Climate change is affecting biodiversity at a global scale. In the marine realm, ocean warming and acidification are pushing dominant habitat-forming species, such as corals and large seaweeds, into decline, affecting biodiversity.
New research shows these two processes can cause changes in the microbiome on the surface of large brown seaweed leading to disease-like symptoms. Blistering, bleaching and eventually degradation of the kelp’s surface is impacting the species’ ability to photosynthesise and potentially survive.