Emiliania huxleyi Statistics

The following figures are rather approximate, and should be treated with some caution. There are at least two different strains of the species (van Bleijswijk, 1991) with some morphological differences between them. Changes in the nutrient status of the water, light intensity, and other factors may well also induce cellular changes such as cell size. With organisms that are so small, experiments are difficult and errors in measurement can be made.

Cell diameter: 4 x 10^-6 m.

Cell volume (assuming a spherical shape, not counting coccoliths): 30 x 10^-18 m3.

Cellular organic carbon content: 10 x 10^-12 g organic C cell-1.

Cellular weight (assuming 50% of biomass = carbon): 20 x 10^-12 g cell-1.

Number of coccoliths per cell: 30.

Coccosphere diameter: 5 x 10^-6 m.

Coccolith diameter: 2.5 x 10^-6 m.

Coccolith carbon content: 0.54 or 0.28 x 10^-12 g calcite C coccolith (Balch WM et al, L&O 41:1684 and Fagerbakke KM et al, Sarsia 79:349 respectively).

Coccolith calcium content: 0.67 x 10^-12 g calcite Ca coccolith.

The cells and coccoliths are very small. In terms of mass and volume, an Ehux cell is to a person as a person is to Mount Everest. The two pairs each differ by about 15 orders of magnitude.

Picture courtesy of Glynn Gorick (copyright held).

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Toby Tyrrell : T.Tyrrell@noc.soton.ac.uk