Navigation Links
Climate change clues from tiny marine algae -- ancient and modern
Date:2/4/2013

Microscopic ocean algae called coccolithophores are providing clues about the impact of climate change both now and many millions of years ago. The study found that their response to environmental change varies between species, in terms of how quickly they grow.

Coccolithophores, a type of plankton, are not only widespread in the modern ocean but they are also prolific in the fossil record because their tiny calcium carbonate shells are preserved on the seafloor after death the vast chalk cliffs of Dover, for example, are almost entirely made of fossilised coccolithophores.

The fate of coccolithophores under changing environmental conditions is of interest because of their important role in the marine ecosystem and carbon cycle. Because of their calcite shells, these organisms are potentially sensitive to ocean acidification, which occurs when rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by the ocean, increasing its acidity.

There are many different species of coccolithophore and in an article, published in Nature Geoscience this week, the scientists report that they responded in different ways to a rapid climate warming event that occurred 56 million years ago, the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

The study, involving researchers from the University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre and University College London, found that the species Toweius pertusus continued to reproduce relatively quickly despite rapidly changing environmental conditions. This would have provided a competitive advantage and is perhaps why closely-related modern-day species considered to be its descendants, (such as Emiliana huxleyi) still thrive today.

In contrast, the species Coccolithus pelagicus grew more slowly during the period of greatest warmth and this inability to maintain high growth rates may explain why its descendants are less abundant and less widespread in the modern ocean.

"This work provides us with a whole new way of looking at living and fossil coccolithophores," said lead author Dr Samantha Gibbs, Senior Research Fellow at University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science.

By comparing immaculately preserved and complete fossil cells with modern coccolithophore cells, the researchers could interpret how different species responded to the sudden increase in environmental change at the PETM, when atmospheric CO2 levels increased rapidly and the oceans became more acidic.

"We use knowledge of how coccolithophores build their calcite skeletons in the modern ocean to interpret how climate change 56 million years ago affected the growth of these microscopic plankton," said co-author Dr Alex Poulton, a Research Fellow at the National Oceanography Centre.

"This is a significant step forward and allows us to view fossils as cells rather than dead 'rocks'. Through this we can begin to understand the environmental controls on oceanic calcification, as well as the potential effects of climate change and ocean acidification."


'/>"/>

Contact: Catherine Beswick
catherine.beswick@noc.ac.uk
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. New study will predict how trees will adapt to rapid climate change
2. Climate change projected to alter Indiana bat maternity range
3. Analysis of Greenland ice cores adds to historical record and provide glimpse into climates future
4. Parasites of Madagascars lemurs expanding with climate change
5. Climate changes effects on temperate rain forests surprisingly complex
6. Climate change to profoundly affect the Midwest in coming decades
7. In the Eastern US, spring flowers keep pace with warming climate
8. International study: Where theres smoke or smog, theres climate change
9. Will changes in climate wipe out mammals in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas?
10. 2 climate scientists win 2012 Vetlesen Prize for work on ozone hole, ice cores
11. Mathematics and weather and climate research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Climate change clues from tiny marine algae -- ancient and modern
(Date:4/6/2017)... April 6, 2017 Forecasts by ... Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & ... Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, ... Are you looking for a definitive report ... ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 3, 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, ... detected a statistically significant association between the ... treatment and objective response of cancer patients ... predict whether cancer patients will respond to ... well as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... , March 28, 2017 The ... Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, ... Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... 2016 and is projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion ... and 2022. The base year considered for the study ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal ... growth period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 ... grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), ... kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single ... Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development of ... "New techniques for measuring ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... , ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national ... Christopher Stubbs, a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been ... a member of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... 6, 2017  The 2017 Nobel Prize in ... Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and ... cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have helped to broaden ... biology community. The winners worked with systems manufactured ... produce highly resolved, three-dimensional images of protein structures ...
Breaking Biology Technology: