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Mar Biotechnol (NY). 2009 May-Jun;11(3):327-33. doi: 10.1007/s10126-008-9147-0. Epub 2008 Oct 1.

Cold stress stimulates intracellular calcification by the coccolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyceae) under phosphate-deficient conditions.

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Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Intracellular calcification by the coccolith-producing haptophyte Emiliania huxleyi (NIES 837) is regulated by various environmental factors. This study focused on the relationship between cold and phosphate-deficient stresses to elucidate how those factors control coccolith production. (45)Ca incorporation into coccoliths was more than 97% of the total (45)Ca incorporation by whole cells. In a batch culture, orthophosphate in the medium (final concentration, 28.7 muM) was rapidly depleted within 3 days, and then extracellular alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity, an indicator of phosphate deprivation, increased during the stationary growth phase. The increase in AP activity was slightly higher at 20 degrees C than at 12 degrees C. The calcification started to increase earlier than AP activity, and the increase was much higher at 12 degrees C than at 20 degrees C. Such enhancement of calcification was suppressed by the addition of phosphate, while AP activity was also suppressed after a transient increase. These results suggest that phosphate deprivation is a trigger for calcification and that a rather long induction period is needed for calcification compared to the increase in AP activity. While calcification was greatly stimulated by cold stress, other cellular activities such as growth, phosphate utilization, and the induction of AP activity were suppressed. The stimulation of coccolith production by cold stress was minimal under phosphate-sufficient conditions. The high calcification activity estimated by (45)Ca incorporation was confirmed by morphological observations of coccoliths on the cell surface under bright-field and polarization microscopy. These results indicate that phosphate deprivation is the primary factor for stimulating coccolith production, and cold stress is a secondary acceleration factor that stimulates calcification under conditions of phosphate deprivation.

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