The Possession of Coccoliths Fails to Deter Microzooplankton Grazers

Kyle M. J. Mayers, Alex J. Poulton, Kay Bidle, Kim Thamatrakoln, Brittany Schieler, Sarah L. C. Giering, Seona R. Wells, Glen A. Tarran, Daniel J. Mayor, Matthew D. Johnson, Ulf Riebesell, Aud Larsen, Assaf Vardi, Elizabeth L. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


Phytoplankton play a central role in the regulation of global carbon and nutrient cycles, forming the basis of the marine food webs. A group of biogeochemically important phytoplankton, the coccolithophores, produce calcium carbonate scales that have been hypothesized to deter or reduce grazing by microzooplankton. Here, a meta-analysis of mesocosm-based experiments demonstrates that calcification of the cosmopolitan coccolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi, fails to deter microzooplankton grazing. The median grazing to growth ratio for E. huxleyi (0.56 ± 0.40) was not significantly different among non-calcified nano- or picoeukaryotes (0.71 ± 0.31 and 0.55 ± 0.34, respectively). Additionally, the environmental concentration of E. huxleyi did not drive preferential grazing of non-calcified groups. These results strongly suggest that the possession of coccoliths does not provide E. huxleyi effective protection from microzooplankton grazing. Such indiscriminate consumption has implications for the dissolution and fate of CaCO3 in the ocean, and the evolution of coccoliths.
Original languageEnglish
Article number569896
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020


  • biomineralisation
  • coccolithophore
  • evolution
  • microzooplankton
  • phytoplankton
  • predation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The Possession of Coccoliths Fails to Deter Microzooplankton Grazers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this