Calcification and ocean acidification: new insights from the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

The coccolithophores are microalgae belonging to the class Prymesiophyceae in the division Haptophyta and the most common species of coccolithophore globally is Emiliania huxleyi. Uniquely, the coccolithophores synthesize calcium carbonate scales (coccoliths) within vesicles in the cell, which are then extruded to the cell surface. Emiliania huxleyi frequently forms huge blooms (up to 8 million km2; Moore et al., 2012) in coastal and open marine systems and coccolithophores account for c. 50% of the global ocean calcium carbonate production and export to the deep ocean. In view of the observed and predicted future drop in oceanic pH (ocean acidification) that is a consequence of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, there is a great deal of interest, but conflicting reports in the literature (Riebesell et al., 2000; Iglesias-Rodriguez et al., 2008), about the consequences of ocean acidification for the growth and calcification of this important group of microalgae. The paper by Bach et al., in this issue of New Phytologist (pp. 121–134) presents a series of elegant experiments, using a variety of approaches, that makes significant headway towards answering these questions.

Beardall J. & Raven J. A., 2013. Calcification and ocean acidification: new insights from the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. New Phytologist 199(1): 1–3. Article.


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