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Authors:  Shoko Fujiwara and Mikio Tsuzuki
The coccolithophorids are unicellular marine algae belonging to the Haptophyta
which have calcified scales, coccoliths, on their surface. These algae play an important
role in maintaining the global carbon pool of the marine ecosystem, not only as a primary
producer in the food chain, but also as a producer of CaCO3. Being different from other
biomineralization systems, their biomineralization system has the unique characteristic of
being intracellular. The mechanisms involved have been investigated mainly in the
genera Emiliania and Pleurochrysis, which are included in the two separate phylogenetic
lineages of the coccolithophorids. Acidic polysaccharides, which are present in the
coccoliths, are considered to be involved in the coccolith formation. The structures and
localization of acidic polysaccharides have been analysed in the two genera. However,
the molecular mechanisms underlying the coccolith formation by coccolithophorids
remain unclear. Recently, analyses of EST and genome sequences, and involving cDNA
arrays have been started in E. huxleyi and P. haptonemofera. The morphological,
biochemical, and molecular biological studies on the calcification of the
coccolithophorids are reviewed, focusing on Pleurochrysis and Emiliania. 

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