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Species-specific growth response of coccolithophores to Palaeocene–Eocene environmental change

Species-specific growth response of coccolithophores to Palaeocene–Eocene environmental change
Species-specific growth response of coccolithophores to Palaeocene–Eocene environmental change
Coccolithophores—single-celled calcifying phytoplankton—represent an essential footing to marine ecosystems, yet their sensitivity to environmental change, and in particular increases in atmospheric CO2, is poorly understood1. During the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), about 56 million years ago, atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose rapidly and the oceans acidified2, 3, making this an ideal time interval to examine coccolithophore responses to environmental change. Here we compare the results of experiments on modern coccolithophore species with exceptional fossil coccosphere records of the PETM, providing a cellular-level perspective. In modern taxa, we find that during the exponential growth phase of rapid cell division, small cells with few coccoliths are produced, whereas larger cells with more coccoliths are produced during slowed cell division. Applying these diagnostic features to the PETM fossil record, we find that the dominant species exhibited different growth responses to the environmental forcing. Toweius pertusus shows geometry indicative of rapid cell division. In contrast, we suggest that cells of Coccolithus pelagicus grew more slowly during the period of environmental change. In the modern ocean, Emiliania huxleyi, which is closely related to the extinct T. pertusus, is prolific and widespread, whereas C. pelagicus is more limited in range and abundance. We argue that these different responses to environmental change were critical to the post-PETM evolutionary success of the descendants of these taxa.
1752-0894
218-222
Gibbs, Samantha J.
82dfbcbc-3a8a-40da-8a80-fe7ad83f3110
Poulton, Alex J.
14bf64a7-d617-4913-b882-e8495543e717
Bown, Paul R.
773e1a6d-1c12-4e57-af3b-ec981390a64a
Daniels, Chris J.
e4a51f9d-efe6-413a-8d3f-3f1eda5ce79f
Hopkins, Jason
1da01369-84a8-4c55-8577-ed6c37a07037
Young, Jeremy R.
18d63549-d248-4012-91b1-64382581ef53
Jones, Heather L.
7d855a88-32c2-4390-99b1-be6218b8a663
Thiemann, Geoff J.
6b170392-b234-4415-92fa-25cb97b6b5ee
O’Dea, Sarah A.
f341c5fb-b72e-42af-b25f-896e25b96141
Newsam, Cherry
306e3d91-87a1-44a0-afc5-71a9f7cf0e0d
Gibbs, Samantha J.
82dfbcbc-3a8a-40da-8a80-fe7ad83f3110
Poulton, Alex J.
14bf64a7-d617-4913-b882-e8495543e717
Bown, Paul R.
773e1a6d-1c12-4e57-af3b-ec981390a64a
Daniels, Chris J.
e4a51f9d-efe6-413a-8d3f-3f1eda5ce79f
Hopkins, Jason
1da01369-84a8-4c55-8577-ed6c37a07037
Young, Jeremy R.
18d63549-d248-4012-91b1-64382581ef53
Jones, Heather L.
7d855a88-32c2-4390-99b1-be6218b8a663
Thiemann, Geoff J.
6b170392-b234-4415-92fa-25cb97b6b5ee
O’Dea, Sarah A.
f341c5fb-b72e-42af-b25f-896e25b96141
Newsam, Cherry
306e3d91-87a1-44a0-afc5-71a9f7cf0e0d

Gibbs, Samantha J., Poulton, Alex J., Bown, Paul R., Daniels, Chris J., Hopkins, Jason, Young, Jeremy R., Jones, Heather L., Thiemann, Geoff J., O’Dea, Sarah A. and Newsam, Cherry (2013) Species-specific growth response of coccolithophores to Palaeocene–Eocene environmental change. Nature Geoscience, 6, 218-222. (doi:10.1038/ngeo1719).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Coccolithophores—single-celled calcifying phytoplankton—represent an essential footing to marine ecosystems, yet their sensitivity to environmental change, and in particular increases in atmospheric CO2, is poorly understood1. During the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), about 56 million years ago, atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose rapidly and the oceans acidified2, 3, making this an ideal time interval to examine coccolithophore responses to environmental change. Here we compare the results of experiments on modern coccolithophore species with exceptional fossil coccosphere records of the PETM, providing a cellular-level perspective. In modern taxa, we find that during the exponential growth phase of rapid cell division, small cells with few coccoliths are produced, whereas larger cells with more coccoliths are produced during slowed cell division. Applying these diagnostic features to the PETM fossil record, we find that the dominant species exhibited different growth responses to the environmental forcing. Toweius pertusus shows geometry indicative of rapid cell division. In contrast, we suggest that cells of Coccolithus pelagicus grew more slowly during the period of environmental change. In the modern ocean, Emiliania huxleyi, which is closely related to the extinct T. pertusus, is prolific and widespread, whereas C. pelagicus is more limited in range and abundance. We argue that these different responses to environmental change were critical to the post-PETM evolutionary success of the descendants of these taxa.

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Published date: February 2013
Organisations: Marine Biogeochemistry, Ocean Biochemistry & Ecosystems, Paleooceanography & Palaeoclimate

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Local EPrints ID: 349285
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/349285
ISSN: 1752-0894
PURE UUID: fc2d7471-f2cc-4771-bbfa-5d61e6f069e8

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Date deposited: 27 Feb 2013 13:44
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 21:42

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Contributors

Author: Alex J. Poulton
Author: Paul R. Bown
Author: Chris J. Daniels
Author: Jason Hopkins
Author: Jeremy R. Young
Author: Heather L. Jones
Author: Geoff J. Thiemann
Author: Sarah A. O’Dea
Author: Cherry Newsam

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