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

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Müller, MN, Lebrato, M, Riebesell, U, Barcelos e Ramos, J, Schulz, KG, Blanco-Ameijeiras, S, Sett, S, Eisenhauer, A & Stoll, HM 2014, 'Influence of temperature and CO2 on the strontium and magnesium composition of coccolithophore calcite', Biogeosciences, vol. 11, pp. 1065-1075.

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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 speciesspecific 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.