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Coccolith volume of the Southern Ocean coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi as a possible indicator for palaeo-cell volume


Muller, MN and Brandini, FP and Trull, TW and Hallegraeff, GM, Coccolith volume of the Southern Ocean coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi as a possible indicator for palaeo-cell volume, Geobiology, 19, (1) pp. 63-74. ISSN 1472-4669 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/gbi.12414


Coccolithophores are a key functional phytoplankton group and produce minute calcite plates (coccoliths) in the sunlit layer of the pelagic ocean. Coccoliths significantly contribute to the sediment record since the Triassic and their geometry have been subject to palaeoceanographic and biological studies to retrieve information on past environmental conditions. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of coccolith, coccosphere and cell volume data of the Southern Ocean Emiliania huxleyi ecotype A, subject to gradients of temperature, irradiance, carbonate chemistry and macronutrient limitation. All tested environmental drivers significantly affect coccosphere, coccolith and cell volume with driver‐specific sensitivities. However, a highly significant correlation emerged between cell and coccolith volume with Vcoccolith=0.0120.001*Vcell+0.2340.066 (n=23, r2=.85, p<.0001, σest=0.127), indicating a primary control of coccolith volume by physiological modulated changes in cell volume. We discuss the possible application of fossil coccolith volume as an indicator for cell volume/size and growth rate and, additionally, illustrate that macronutrient limitation of phosphorus and nitrogen has the predominant influence on coccolith volume in respect to other environmental drivers. Our results provide a solid basis for the application of coccolith volume and geometry as a palaeo‐proxy and shed light on the underlying physiological reasons, offering a valuable tool to investigate the fossil record of the coccolithophore E. huxleyi.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:coccolithophores, ocean acidification, carbonate chemistry, coccolith geometry, Emiliania huxleyi, light, nutrient limitation, Southern Ocean, temperature
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Phycology (incl. marine grasses)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Trull, TW (Professor Thomas Trull)
UTAS Author:Hallegraeff, GM (Professor Gustaaf Hallegraeff)
ID Code:140967
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP1093801)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2020-09-16
Last Modified:2022-08-29

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