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Coccoliths, SEM

Coccoliths, SEM

C002/1272

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Credit

STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Coccoliths, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Coccoliths are individual plates of calcium carbonate formed by coccolithophores (single-celled algae). The plates are arranged around the organism in a coccosphere but their function is unclear. Suggestions include: defence against grazing by zooplankton or infection by bacteria or viruses; maintenance of buoyancy; release of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis; to filter out harmful UV light; or in deep-dwelling species, to concentrate light for photosynthesis. Magnification: x2500 when printed 10 centimetres wide.

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