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June 2011

Coccolithophores such as Emiliania huxleyi shown here are single-celled marine phytoplankton that produce calcium carbonate scales (coccoliths). They occur in all of the world’s oceans and together represent the largest source of biogenic calcium carbonate on Earth, contributing significantly to the global carbon cycle. Coccoliths, which are produced inside the cells, are secreted to the cell surface. The discovery of proton channels in the coccolithophore cell membrane provides new insight into how they cope with excess protons generated during calcification and will inform future studies of how these important organisms will respond to ocean acidification (see Taylor et al., e1001085).

Image Credit: Alison R. Taylor (University of North Carolina Wilmington Microscopy Facility)

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