There is still considerable uncertainty about the relationship between calcification and photosynthesis. It has been suggested that since calcification in coccolithophorids is an intracellular process that releases CO2 , it enhances photosynthesis in a manner analogous to a carbon-concentrating mechanism (CCM). The ubiquitous, bloom-forming, and numerically abundant coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) W. W. Hay et H. Mohler was studied in nutrient-replete, pH and [CO2 ] controlled, continuous cultures (turbidostats) under a range of [Ca(2+) ] from 0 to 9 mM. We examined the long-term, fully acclimated photosynthesis-light responses and analyzed the crystalline structure of the coccoliths using SEM. The E. huxleyi cells completely lost their coccosphere when grown in 0 [Ca(2+) ], while thin, undercalcified and brittle coccoliths were evident at 1 mM [Ca(2+) ]. Coccoliths showed increasing levels of calcification with increasing [Ca(2+) ]. More robust coccoliths were noted, with no discernable differences in coccolith morphology when the cells were grown in either 5 or 9 mM (ambient seawater) [Ca(2+) ]. In contrast to calcification, photosynthesis was not affected by the [Ca(2+) ] in the media. Cells showed no correlation of their light-dependent O2 evolution with [Ca(2+) ], and in all [Ca(2+) ]-containing turbidostats, there were no significant differences in growth rate. The results show unequivocally that as a process, photosynthesis in E. huxleyi is mechanistically independent from calcification.
Keywords: CCM; Ca; Emiliania huxleyi; calcification; photosynthesis.
© 2009 Phycological Society of America.