Articles | Volume 11, issue 4
Biogeosciences, 11, 1065–1075, 2014
Biogeosciences, 11, 1065–1075, 2014

Research article 25 Feb 2014

Research article | 25 Feb 2014

Influence of temperature and CO2 on the strontium and magnesium composition of coccolithophore calcite

M. N. Müller2,1,**, M. Lebrato3,2,**, U. Riebesell2, J. Barcelos e Ramos4, K. G. Schulz5,2, S. Blanco-Ameijeiras6,*, S. Sett2, A. Eisenhauer2, and H. M. Stoll7 M. N. Müller et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), Private Bag 129, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
  • 2GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Wischhofstr. 1–3, 24148 Kiel, Germany
  • 3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, Hubbs Hall Room 2265, 8750 Biological Grade, San Diego, USA
  • 4Centre of Climate, Meteorology and Global Change (CMMG), University of Azores, Rua do Capitão d'Avila, Pico da Urze 970-0042 Angra do Heroismo, Açores, Portugal
  • 5Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry, School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, P.O. Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
  • 6National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, European Way, SO14 3ZH Southampton, UK
  • 7Department of Geology, University of Oviedo, Arias de Velasco, s/n 30005, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
  • *now at: Institute F.-A. Forel, Faculty of Sciences, University of Geneva, 10 Route de Suisse, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
  • **These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Marine calcareous sediments provide a fundamental basis for palaeoceanographic studies aiming to reconstruct past oceanic conditions and understand key biogeochemical element cycles. Calcifying unicellular phytoplankton (coccolithophores) are a major contributor to both carbon and calcium cycling by photosynthesis and the production of calcite (coccoliths) in the euphotic zone, and the subsequent long-term deposition and burial into marine sediments. Here we present data from controlled laboratory experiments on four coccolithophore species and elucidate the relation between the divalent cation (Sr, Mg and Ca) partitioning in coccoliths and cellular physiology (growth, calcification and photosynthesis). Coccolithophores were cultured under different seawater temperature and carbonate chemistry conditions. The partition coefficient of strontium (DSr) was positively correlated with both carbon dioxide (pCO2) and temperature but displayed no coherent relation to particulate organic and inorganic carbon production rates. Furthermore, DSr correlated positively with cellular growth rates when driven by temperature but no correlation was present when changes in growth rates were pCO2-induced. Our results demonstrate the complex interaction between environmental forcing and physiological control on the strontium partitioning in coccolithophore calcite and challenge interpretations of the coccolith Sr / Ca ratio from high-pCO2 environments (e.g. Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maximum). The partition coefficient of magnesium (DMg) displayed species-specific differences and elevated values under nutrient limitation. No conclusive correlation between coccolith DMg and temperature was observed but pCO2 induced a rising trend in coccolith DMg. Interestingly, the best correlation was found between coccolith DMg and chlorophyll a production, suggesting that chlorophyll a and calcite associated Mg originate from the same intracellular pool. These and previous findings indicate that Mg is transported into the cell and to the site of calcification via different pathways than Ca and Sr. Consequently, the coccolith Mg / Ca ratio should be decoupled from the seawater Mg / Ca ratio. This study gives an extended insight into the driving factors influencing the coccolith Mg / Ca ratio and should be considered for future palaeoproxy calibrations.

Final-revised paper