Increases in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) in the atmosphere will
significantly affect a wide variety of terrestrial fauna and flora. Because of tight atmospheric-oceanic
coupling, shallow-water marine species are also expected to be affected by increases in
atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. One proposed way to slow increases in atmospheric
pCO2 is to sequester CO2 in the deep sea. Thus, over the next few centuries marine species will
be exposed to changing seawater chemistry caused by ocean-atmospheric exchange and/or deep-ocean
sequestration. This initial case study on one allogromiid foraminiferal species
(Allogromia laticollaris) was conducted to begin to ascertain the effect of elevated pCO2 on
benthic Foraminifera, which are a major meiofaunal constituent of shallow- and deep-water
marine communities. Cultures of this thecate foraminiferan protist were used for 10-14-day
experiments. Experimental treatments were executed in an incubator that controlled CO2 (15
000; 30 000; 60 000; 90 000; 200 000 ppm), temperature and humidity; atmospheric controls
(i.e., ~375 ppm CO2) were executed simultaneously. Although the experimental elevated pCO2
values are far above foreseeable surface water pCO2, they were selected to represent the
spectrum of conditions expected for the benthos if deep-sea CO2 sequestration becomes a reality.
Survival was assessed in two independent ways: pseudopodial presence/absence and
measurement of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is an indicator of cellular energy.
Substantial proportions of A. laticollaris populations survived 200 000 ppm CO2 although the
mean of the median [ATP] of survivors was statistically lower for this treatment than for that of
atmospheric control specimens. After individuals that had been incubated in 200 000 ppm CO2
for 12 days were transferred to atmospheric conditions for ~24 hours, the [ATP] of live
specimens (survivors) approximated those of the comparable atmospheric control treatment.
Incubation in 200 000 ppm CO2 also resulted in reproduction by some individuals. Results
suggest that certain Foraminifera are able to tolerate deep-sea CO2 sequestration and perhaps
thrive as a result of elevated pCO2 that is predicted for the next few centuries, in a high-pCO2
world. Thus, allogromiid foraminiferal “blooms” may result from climate change. Furthermore,
because allogromiids consume a variety of prey, it is likely that they will be major players in
ecosystem dynamics of future coastal sedimentary environments.