Biocalcification by Emiliania huxleyi in batch culture experiments

Coccolithophores, among which Emiliania huxleyi is the most abundant and widespread species, are considered the most productive calcifying organism on earth. The export of organic carbon and calcification are the main drivers of the biological CO2 pump and are expected to change with oceanic acidification. Coccolithophores are further known to produce transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) that promote particle aggregation. As a result, the TEP and biogenic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) contribute to the export of carbon from the surface ocean to deep waters. In this context, we followed the development and the decline of E. huxleyi using batch experiments with monospecific cultures. We studied the link between different processes such as photosynthesis, calcification and the production of TEP. The onset of calcification was delayed in relation to photosynthesis. The timing and the general feature of the dynamics of calcification were closely related to the saturation state of seawater with respect to calcite, Ωcal. The production of TEP was enhanced after the decline of phytoplankton growth. After nutrient exhaustion, particulate organic carbon (POC) concentration increased linearly with increasing TEP concentration, suggesting that TEP contributes to the POC increase. The production of CaCO3 is also strongly correlated with that of TEP, suggesting that calcification may be considered as a source of TEP precursors.

De Bodt C., Harlay J., & Chou L., 2008. Biocalcification by Emiliania huxleyi in batch culture experiments. Mineralogical Magazine 72: 251-256. Article.

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