What do coccolithophores do?
Coccolithophores, which are considered to be the most productive calcifying organisms on earth, play an important role in the marine carbon cycle. The formation of calcite skeletons in the surface layer and their subsequent sinking to depth modifies upper-ocean alkalinity and directly affects air/sea CO2 exchange.
Do coccolithophores still exist?
They have been an integral part of marine plankton communities since the Jurassic. Today, coccolithophores contribute ~1–10% to primary production in the surface ocean and ~50% to pelagic CaCO3 sediments.
Are coccolithophores phytoplankton?
Like any other type of phytoplankton, Coccolithophores are one-celled plant-like organisms that live in large numbers throughout the upper layers of the ocean. Coccolithophores surround themselves with a microscopic plating made of limestone (calcite).
Are coccolithophores blooms harmful?
Coccolithophores are not normally harmful to other marine life in the ocean.
What is unique about coccolithophores?
They have an outer layer made up of intricate calcium carbonate plates called coccoliths arranged in a sphere that contains a single cell. Like all algae this cell uses light energy from the sun to make food. The life cycle for these organisms is unlike that of conventional plants.
How do coccolithophores eat?
The creatures use calcium carbonate, the material that makes up chalk and seashells, to build tiny plates on their exterior. Although building these plates produces carbon dioxide, coccolithophores also consume the gas while undergoing photosynthesis.
Why is coccolithophores called smell of the sea?
The first is by emitting a gas, such as dimethyl sulfide released by Sulfitobacter bacteria and phytoplankton such as coccolithophores, which creates the distinctive sulfurous smell of the sea and also produces particles to seed marine cloud droplets.
What is a major threat to coccolithophores?
Oceans with a lower pH that can dissolve calcium carbonate could therefore have a harmful effect on the abundance of coccolithophores and, consequently, on the health of the oceans and the planet.
What are diatoms and coccolithophores?
The silica frustules of diatoms and calcium carbonate coccoliths of coccolithophores are relatively heavy biominerals, and may increase carbon export out of the surface ocean by “ballasting” sinking particles. There is some debate in the literature about which biomineral is more important in exporting carbon.
Are coccolithophores zooplankton?
Forams represent an ancient and speciose group of zooplankton which live mostly in sediment (as is the case here), but also in the water column. Within the red squares you will see a second, smaller phytoplankton species known as a Coccolithophore.
Are coccolithophores golden algae?
The coccolithophores are sometimes considered members of the ‘golden algae’ group and some treatments lump ‘golden algae’ (haptophytes including coccolithophores and other groups), brown algae and diatoms together in a group called ‘Stramenopiles’, largely on the basis of pigments.
Why are coccolithophores regarded as smell of the sea?
Certain coccolithophores also produce sulphur-bearing compounds (DMSP), which reach the atmosphere as dimethyl sulphide (DMS) and after further oxidation these act as cloud-forming nuclei, therefore influencing the weather in and around where they live. DMS also contributes to the characteristic smell of the sea!