This study investigates the ability of the unicellular green alga Natmochloris atoimis to precipitate CaCO3, quantifies mineral precipitation rates, estimates sediment production in a N. atomiis bloom, and discusses the implications of microbial calcification for carbonate sediment deposition. A series of N. atomus cultures, isolated from Lake Reeve, Australia, were incubated at various pH and calcium concentrations to determine environmental parameters for calcification. Rates of calcification were calculated from initial and postincubation alkalinity, pH, and calcium measurements. Replicate experiments and controls consisting of non-calcifying cultures, uninoculated media, and dead cell cultures were performed using environmental culture parameters determined in series cultures. Average calcification rates from replicate experiments were used to predict daily sediment production rates in a small bloom of N. atomus. N. atomus precipitates 0.138 g/L of calcite in approximately 4 h when incubated at pH 8.5, 14.24 mM calcium concentration, 33 ??C, 100 ??E/m2/s light intensity, and a cell population density of 107 cells/mL. Assuming continuous precipitation, this corresponds to a maximum estimated sediment production rate of 1.6 ?? 106 kg of CaCO3, per 12 h day in a single bloom of 3.2 ?? 109 L. Our results suggest that microbial calcification contributes significantly to the carbonate sediment budget.
Additional publication details
Production of carbonate sediments by a unicellular green alga