Coccolithophores: an environmentally significant and understudied phytoplankton group in the Indian Ocean
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Coccolithophores are unique primary producers in the ocean with the ability to calcify. They are known to produce calcareous scales, which form the significant part of calcite oozes or chalk deposits on the seafloor. Coccolithophores are very noteworthy and they are explored to a great extent as nannofossils to reconstruct the past climate. Calcite plates in coccolithophores make them a vital tool in global climate change studies specifically with ocean acidification. These microscopic plants are the major contributor of the carbonate rain that controls the inorganic carbon pump in the ocean, which in turn influences both carbon and carbonate cycles. The emergence of advanced techniques enables us to study the biological aspects of this pelagic calcifier with improved precision. But still, they are understudied world over compared to any other phytoplankton groups. The northern Indian Ocean, being landlocked in three sides and vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification, severely lacks focused studies on coccolithophores, though the US JGOFS in the 1990s have outlined the ecological significance of coccolithophores in the Arabian Sea. This paper reviews and outlines our understanding of coccolithophores as well as the nix in the northern Indian Ocean.
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