Coralline algal calcification: A morphological and process-based understanding

Autoři: Merinda C. Nash aff001;  Guillermo Diaz-Pulido aff003;  Adela S. Harvey aff004;  Walter Adey aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, United States of America aff001;  Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia aff002;  Griffith School of Environment and Science, and Australian Rivers Institute, Coast and Estuaries, Nathan Campus, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia aff003;  Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(9)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221396


Research purpose and findings

Coralline algae are key biological substrates of many carbonate systems globally. Their capacity to build enduring crusts that underpin the formation of tropical reefs, rhodolith beds and other benthic substrate is dependent on the formation of a calcified thallus. However, this important process of skeletal carbonate formation is not well understood. We undertook a study of cellular carbonate features to develop a model for calcification. We describe two types of cell wall calcification; 1) calcified primary cell wall (PCW) in the thin-walled elongate cells such as central medullary cells in articulated corallines and hypothallial cells in crustose coralline algae (CCA), 2) calcified secondary cell wall (SCW) with radial Mg-calcite crystals in thicker-walled rounded cortical cells of articulated corallines and perithallial cells of CCA. The distinctive banding found in many rhodoliths is the regular transition from PCW-only cells to SCW cells. Within the cell walls there can be bands of elevated Mg with Mg content of a few mol% higher than radial Mg-calcite (M-type), ranging up to dolomite composition (D-type).

Model for calcification

We propose the following three-step model for calcification. 1) A thin (< 0.5 μm) PCW forms and is filled with a mineralising fluid of organic compounds and seawater. Nanometer-scale Mg-calcite grains precipitate on the organic structures within the PCW. 2) Crystalline cellulose microfibrils (CMF) are extruded perpendicularly from the cellulose synthase complexes (CSC) in the plasmalemma to form the SCW. 3) The CMF soaks in the mineralising fluid as it extrudes and becomes calcified, retaining the perpendicular form, thus building the radial calcite. In Clathromorphum, SCW formation lags PCW creating a zone of weakness resulting in a split in the sub-surface crust. All calcification seems likely to be a bioinduced rather than controlled process. These findings are a substantial step forward in understanding how corallines calcify.

Klíčová slova:

Algae – Calcification – Cell walls – Cellulose – Sea water – Plant cell walls – Carbonates – Secondary cells


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