Coccolithophores: Ancient Marine Algae

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In a study carried out by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) on Coccolithophores (microscopic ancient marine algae) , it has been revealed that there is a decrease in the concentration of oceanic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in southern Indian ocean.

About

  • Coccolithophores are single-celled algae.
  • They live in the upper layers of the world՚s oceans.
  • They calcify marine phytoplankton that produce:
    • 40 % of open ocean calcium carbonate.
    • 20 % of the global net marine primary productivity.
  • They also build exoskeletons from individual CaCO3 plates consisting of chalk and seashells.
  • Coccolithophores help in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and ocean during photosynthesis.
  • They absorb more carbondioxide than they produce at equilibrium, beneficial for the ocean ecosystem.
  • Abundance and diversity enrichment of coccolithophores is influenced by various environmental factors:
    • Silicate concentrations
    • Calcium carbonate concentration
    • Diatom abundance
    • Light intensity
    • Availability of macro and possibly micronutrient concentrations

Study

  • It points to climate change as a major reason for the altered coccolithophore calcification rate.
  • Important for bringing positive changes in the marine ecosystem as well as global carbon cycle.

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