Biomineralization by calcifying microalgae is a precisely controlled intracellular calcification process that produces delicate calcite scales (or coccoliths) in the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophycea). Despite its importance in biogeochemical cycles and the marine environment globally, the underlying molecular mechanism of intracellular coccolith formation, which requires calcium, bicarbonate, and coccolith-polysaccharides, remains unclear. In E. huxleyi CCMP 371, we demonstrated that reducing the calcium concentration from 10 (ambient seawater) to 0.1 mM strongly restricted coccolith production, which was then recovered by adding 10 mM calcium, irrespective of inorganic phosphate conditions, indicating that coccolith production could be finely controlled by the calcium supply. Using this strain, we investigated the expression of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) to observe the cellular events induced by changes in calcium concentrations. Intriguingly, DEG analysis revealed that the phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC) gene was upregulated and coccolith production by cells was blocked by the PI-PLC inhibitor U73122 under conditions closely associated with calcium-induced calcification. These findings imply that PI-PLC plays an important role in the biomineralization process of the coccolithophore E. huxleyi.
- Emiliania huxleyi
- Phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C