• Alison R. Taylor
  • Colin Brownlee
Part of the Developments in Applied Phycology book series (DAPH, volume 6)


Several groups of algae form calcium carbonate (CaCO3) by a range of mechanisms that can involve intracellular or extracellular processes. Although calcification mechanisms evolved independently in different algal groups, there are a number of common physiological features that promote the production of calcite. These include modification of the chemistry at the site of calcification, association of organic material to initiate and control crystal formation, and homeostasis mechanisms to regulate internal pH and Ca2+ levels. Microalgal calcification is predominantly marine and cyanobacteria were likely the first life forms to mediate the biological production of calcite at the cell surface. Of the eukaryotes, coccolithophores represent the most significant group of calcifying microalgae, playing a critical role in the marine carbonate system. Production of calcium carbonate in coccolithophores occurs in a Golgi-derived intracellular compartment. This requires a specialized membrane physiology to accomodate the necessary transport of subtrates for calcification while maintaining cellular homeostasis. Here we review the most recent literature on microalgal calcification, before focussing on mechanisms, roles, ecophysiological implications and geochemical consequences of coccolithophore calcification.


Calcification Coccolithophore Cyanobacteria Dinoflagellate Emiliania huxleyi Microbialites Ocean Acidification Paleoproxy Scrippsiella minima Thoracosphaeraceae 



The authors’ work is supported by an NSF grant IOS 094944 (ART) and the NERC, BBSRC and EU FP7 European Project on Ocean Acidification (CB). ART gratefully acknowledges a visiting fellowship of the Marine Biological Association U.K.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and Marine BiologyUniversity of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Marine Biological Association of the UKThe LaboratoryPlymouthUK
  3. 3.School of Ocean and Earth SciencesUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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