Emiliania huxleyi

Taxonomy: Eukaryota; Haptophyceae; Isochrysidales; Noelaerhabdaceae; Emiliania


Emiliania huxleyi named after Thomas Henry Huxley and Ceasre Emiliani, the evolutionary biologist (Darwin's bulldog) and the founder of paleoceanography. Coccolithophores, among which Emiliania huxleyi (E. huxleyi) is the most abundant and widespread species, are considered to be the most productive calcifying organism on earth. It has attracted the attention of scientists from fields as diverse as geology, biogeography, paleoclimatology, ecophysiology, material science, and medicine. It extends deep into the tree of life and represents the third most abundant group of phytoplankton in today's oceans with some 300 different species. When water conditions are favourable, E. huxleyi often forms massive blooms in temperate and sub-polar oceans, and in particular at continental margins and shelf seas, sometimes > 100,000 square kilometres (the size of England) in extent. The reflection from the blooms can be picked up by satellites in space.

The ecological success and its ability to fix inorganic carbon into both photosynthetic and biomineralized product, E. huxleyi has significantly impacted the biogeochemistry of the earth directing carbonate chemistry in surface oceans and exporting large amounts of carbon to deep water sediments. The intrinsic coupling of organic matter production and calcification in E. huxleyi blooms underlines their biogeochemical importance in the marine carbon cycle. In addition E. huxleyi also contributes to global sulfur cycling. During grazing Ehux produces the climatically active trace gas dimethyl sulfide; emissions of which may contribute to marine cloud formation and climate regulation.

Our involvement

The genome from E. huxleyi strain CCMP1516 has been sequenced by JGI at an average 10X coverage. The assembly release version 1.0 has 7,809 main genome scaffolds totaling 167.7 MB. Half of the genome is contained in 109 scaffolds at least 0.4 MB in length. The current gene prediction includes a total of 39,126 gene models.

In collaboration with



Read, B. A., Kegel, J., Klute, M. J., Kuo, Y.-C., Lefebvre, S. C., Maumus, F., Mayer, K., Miller, G., Monier, A., Salamov, A., Young, N.D., Aguilar, ., Aguilar, ., Claverie, J., Frickenhaus, S., Gonzalez, A., Herman, E. K., Lin, Y.-C., Napier, J., Ogata, H., Sarno, A. F., Schmutz, J., Schroeder, D., de Vargas, C., Vérret, F., von Dassow, P., Valentin, K., Van de Peer, Y., Rouzé, P., Wheeler, G., Allen, A. E., Bidle, K., Borodovsky, M., Bowler, C., Brownlee, C., Mark Cock, J., Elias, M., Gladyshev, V. N., Groth, M., Groth, M., Guda, C., Hadaegh, A., Iglesias-Rodriguez, D., Jenkins, B., Jones, B. M., Leese, F., Lobanov, A., Lawson, T., Lindquist, E., Marsh, M. E., Lomsadze, A., Mueller-Roeber, B., Lucas, S., Malik, S.-B., Pagarete, A., Mock, T., Probert, I., Parker, M.S., Quesneville, H., Raines, C., Rensing, S.A., Mauricio Riano-Pachon, D., Richier, S., Rokitta, S., Shiraiwa, Y., Soanes, D. M., van der Giezen, M., Wahlund, T. M., Williams, C., Wilson, W., Wolfe, K., Wurch, L. L., Dacks, J. B., Delwiche, C. F., Dyhrman, S. T., Glöckner, G., John, U., Richards, T., Worden, A. Z., Zhang, J., V. Grigoriev, I. (2013) Pan genome of the phytoplankton Emiliania underpins its global distribution. Nature 499(7457):209-13.


John, U., Beszteri, B., Derelle, E., Van de Peer, Y., Read, B., Moreau, H., Cembella, A. (2008) Novel Insights into Evolution of Protistan Polyketide Synthases through Phylogenomic Analysis. Protist 159(1):21-30.

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