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World Oceans Day 2020

On this year's World Oceans Day, we reflect upon the oceans that connect us all and the many challenges they face today. To celebrate the currents propelling us toward conservation action, our editors have rounded up a collection of the ocean-related articles at Communications Biology. For more information about World Oceans Day please visit these resources here and here.

Communications Biology is an open access journal from Nature Research publishing high-quality research, reviews and commentary in all areas of the biological sciences. Research papers published by the journal represent significant advances bringing new biological insight to a specialized area of research. Read more about the journal on our website.

Ocean complexity

Cresci et al. show that glass eels are able to use their magnetic compass to imprint the magnetic direction of tidal flows at the estuaries of the streams where they develop into yellow eels. The authors hypothesize that this ability helps glass eels to maintain their position in an estuary and to migrate upstream.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Vittoria Roncalli et al. used transcriptomics to study the acclimatization of a pre-adult copepod to the highly variable environment of the northern Gulf of Alaska. They find differences in expression of metabolic genes, particularly those involved in lipid metabolism, in different regions of the Gulf.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Subhajit Basu et al. provide evidence for mutualistic interactions between the nitrogen-fixing marine cyanobacteria Trichodesmium and associated bacteria in using iron from dust. Adding siderophores increases iron oxide dissolution and iron uptake, benefiting both Trichodesmium and the associated bacteria.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Samuel Green, Rafael Duarte et al. use models of fish vision to quantify camouflage in green and red chameleon prawns against seaweed backgrounds. They find that while color change occurs over longer periods of time, prawns modify their behaviour in the short term to select color-matching backgrounds.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Rowan Whittle et al. present fossil evidence of new isocrinid (sea lily) species from Antarctica and Australia. They show that isocrinid migration from shallow to deep water occurred at different times across the globe, spanning the Cretaceous-Paleogene to the Eocene/Oligocene.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Broman, Bonaglia et al. report a large-scale study of the micrometazoan community in the oxygen-poor, sulfidic Baltic Sea dead zone that is the largest in the world. They find that animals including nematodes and zooplankton are adapted to survive in this sediment, suggesting dead zones may be important biological resources upon recovery.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Hettle et al. investigate the ability of marine Pseudoalteromonas sp. to metabolise carrageenan, a polysaccharide abundant in red algae. They isolate and characterise previously unstudied strains and find that the recently identified κ/ι-carrageenan specific polysaccharide utilization locus (CarPUL) is required for growth on carrageenan, and biochemically map out many of the steps.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Cheryl L Ames, Anna Klompen et al. describe cassiosomes, stinging cell structures in the mucus of the upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana. They show that these motile cell masses consist of an outer epithelial layer largely composed of nematocytes surrounding centralized clusters of endosymbiotic dinoflagellates.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Ocean impacts and challenges

Torres-Águila et al. report that embryo development of the appendicularian chordate Oikopleura dioica is affected by biotoxins released by phytoplankton blooms. This work shows that these biotoxins may impact marine food webs and that defensome genes of appendicularians could be used to monitor the genetic stress of natural populations.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Berge et al. find that the normal working-light from a ship impacts on the vertical distribution of macrozooplankton and pelagic fish communities around the ship at three stations during the Arctic Polar Night. These data suggest bias from such effects should be taken into account when performing surveys and stock assessments in the Arctic.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Martínez et al. use DNA metabarcoding and a phylogeny-based approach to demonstrate the effects of tourist access on meiofauna diversity of beaches in Asinara National Park. Their results show that tourist frequentation decreases meiofaunal diversity at the shallow “swash” zone, and can be used to inform tourist access and management of beaches.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Masami Fujiwara et al. investigate the prevalence and distribution of nearly 150 fish and marine invertebrate species along the Gulf of Mexico over 35 years. They find that the expansion of tropical species into this region due to climate-mediated factors is increasing species diversity.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Estelle. S. Kilias et al. show that chytrid fungi exhibiting swimming tales are primarily encountered at sites influenced by sea ice melt and that its representation positively correlates with sea ice-associated diatoms. This study predicts that chytrid representation within its Arctic communities may increase as ice retreats further.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Sasha Tetu et al. have examined the effects of plastic leachate exposure on the marine bacteria Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth. They find plastic leachates impair growth, photosynthetic capacity and cause global changes in transcription.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Resilience and innovation

Jessica Ericson et al. examine the viability of Antarctic krill when exposed to near-future levels of ocean acidification for one year. These lab-based simulations of future ocean acidification show that adult krill actively maintain their body acid-base balance, enhancing their resilience.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Ellegaard et al. discuss the potential for using ancient environmental DNA (eDNA), combined with resurrection ecology, to analyse trophic interactions and evolutionary adaptation to changing environments. Their Review suggests that these techniques will improve our ability to predict genetic and phenotypic adaptation to environmental stress.

Review Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Francisco Nascimento et al. present changes to meiobenthic community composition following disturbance of tropical seagrass meadows. They show that shading and simulated grazing have a major impact on the trophic structure of the nematode and polychaete communities of sediments in seagrass habitats

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Avery Paxton et al. test the effects of artificial reefs on abundance and biomass of fish on the southeastern coast of the USA. They report that deep artificial reefs are associated with high numbers and biomasses of tropical and subtropical fishes, likely caused by an increase in prey availability on artificial reefs.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Rupert A. Collins et al. show that environmental DNA degrades faster in the inshore urban environment than the ocean-influenced offshore environment. This study suggests that environmental DNA can be reliably detected for two days, providing an optimal time window of high local fidelity.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology

Javidpour et al. use high-frequency field data, geochemical-isotopic analysis, and modeling of prey–predator dynamics of the comb jelly in the western Baltic Sea to show that adult comb jellies cannibalize their own larvae. This shift to cannibalism allows adults to build nutrient reserves for periods of prey scarcity and sheds light on the ability of this invasive species to thrive amidst environmental fluctuations.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Biology