Ancient Algae Play a Role in Building Healthy Marine Ecosystem Study (Download PDF)

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Ancient Algae Play a Role in Building Healthy Marine Ecosystem Study

  • A study has reported a decrease in the concentration of oceanic calcium carbonate () in the Southern Indian Ocean.
  • The study has been conducted by National Centre for Polar and Ocean research (NCPOR) on microscopic ancient marine algae (Coccolithophores) .
  • The increase in concentration of other single-celled algae known as diatoms has led to reduction in the calcium carbonate.
  • Since this decrease will affect growth and skeleton structure of Coccolithophores. Thus it will have potential significance for world ocean ecosystem.


  • Coccolithophores are single-celled algae living in the upper layers of the world՚s oceans.
  • They have played a key role in marine ecosystems and the global carbon cycle for millions of years.
  • Coccolithophores calcify marine phytoplankton that produces up to 40 percent of ocean calcium carbonate.
  • Marine phytoplanktons are also responsible for 20 per cent of the global net marine primary productivity.
  • Coccolithophores build exoskeletons from calcium carbonate plates.
  • The plates consist of chalk and sea shells building the tiny plates on their exterior.
  • During the plate formation process, carbon dioxide is produced.
  • This carbon dioxide is consumed by Coccolithophores during photosynthesis and removed from the atmosphere and ocean.
  • Coccolithophores consume more carbon dioxide than they produce. Thus, they are beneficial for the ocean ecosystem.
  • NCPOR, the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and Goa University studied the Coccolithophores in the southern Indian Ocean.
  • The study revealed that abundance and diversity enrichment of Coccolithophores is highly dependent on time and influenced by various environmental factors like-
    • Silicate concentrations
    • Calcium carbonate concentrations
    • Diatom abundance
    • Light intensity
    • Availability of macro and possibly micronutrient concentrations
  • The research team revealed that Coccolithophores diversity reduction in early summer and late summer periods is due to increased diatom algae occurrence.
  • The increase in the presence of algae occurs after the breakdown of sea ice with climate change and ocean acidification.
  • This increases the silicate concentration in the southern ocean waters.
  • Researchers also found that biogeographic boundaries of Coccolithophores in southern Indian ocean are
    • Highly variable
    • Controlled by environmental factors in early and mid-austral summer
    • Grazing pressure in late austral summer
  • The study results say that Coccolithophores calcification rate has been altered mainly due to climate change.
  • Future Coccolithophores production will be ultimately determined by different environmental factors and the ability of the species to adapt to those environmental changes.
  • These investigations will help in future intervention to bring positive changes in the marine ecosystem and global carbon cycle.

- Published/Last Modified on: October 18, 2020

Economy, Environment/Ecology, Down-to-Earth

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