The role of coccolithophore calcification in bioengineering their environment.

Flynn, KJ, Clark, DR and Wheeler, G 2016 The role of coccolithophore calcification in bioengineering their environment.. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 283 (1833).

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Coccolithophorids are enigmatic plankton that produce calcium carbonate coccoliths, which over geological time have buried atmospheric CO2 into limestone, changing both the atmosphere and geology of the Earth. However, the role of coccoliths for the proliferation of these organisms remains unclear; suggestions include roles in anti-predation, enhanced photosynthesis and sun-screening. Here we test the hypothesis that calcification stabilizes the pH of the seawater proximate to the organisms, providing a level of acidification countering the detrimental basification that occurs during net photosynthesis. Such bioengineering provides a more stable pH environment for growth and fits the empirical evidence for changes in rates of calcification under different environmental conditions. Under this scenario, simulations suggest that the optimal production ratio of inorganic to organic particulate C (PIC : POCprod) will be lower (by approx. 20%) with ocean acidification and that overproduction of coccoliths in a future acidified ocean, where pH buffering is weaker, presents a risk to calcifying cells.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: ocean acidification Emiliania coccolithophorid coccolith climate change bioengineering
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Marine Microbiome
Depositing User: Dr Glen Wheeler
Date made live: 30 Sep 2016 09:40
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 17:08

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