NO MECHANISTIC DEPENDENCE OF PHOTOSYNTHESIS ON CALCIFICATION IN THE COCCOLITHOPHORID EMILIANIA HUXLEYI (HAPTOPHYTA)(1)

J Phycol. 2009 Oct;45(5):1046-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2009.00726.x. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

Abstract

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.