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The Ultrastructure of Coccoliths from the Marine Alga Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) Hay and Mohler: An Ultra-High Resolution Electron Microscope Study

S. B. Parker, A. J. Skarnulis, P. Westbroek and R. J. P. Williams
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Vol. 219, No. 1215 (Sep. 22, 1983), pp. 111-117
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/35828
Page Count: 11
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The Ultrastructure of Coccoliths from the Marine Alga Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) Hay and Mohler: An Ultra-High Resolution Electron Microscope Study
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Abstract

The calcite coccoliths from the alga Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) Hay and Mohler have been studied by ultra-high resolution electron microscopy. This paper describes the two different types of structure observed, one in the upper elements, the other in the basal plate, or lower element. The former consisted of small, microdomain structures of 300-500 angstrom (1 angstrom = 10-10 m) in length with no strong orientation. At places along these elements, and particularly in the junction between stem and head pieces, triangular patterns of lattice fringes were observed indicating multiple nucleation sites in the structure. In contrast, the lower element consisted of a very thin single crystalline sheet of calcite which could be resolved into a two dimensional lattice image, shown by a computer program that is capable of simulating electron diffraction patterns and lattice images to be a [421] zone of calcite. A possible mechanism for these growth patterns in the formation of coccoliths is discussed, together with the relevance of such mechanisms to biomineralization generally.

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