Emiliania huxleyi

Classification: ntax_cenozoic -> Isochrysidales -> Noelaerhabdaceae -> Emiliania -> Emiliania huxleyi
Sister taxa: E. huxleyi, E. sp.

Daughter taxa (time control age-window is: 0-800Ma)Granddaughter taxa
Emiliania huxleyi A group
Shields sub-parallel; highly variable tube width; usually with a grill in the central area; usually robust distal shield elements (<50% of distal shield area is slits)

Emiliania huxleyi B group
Distal shield curved in profile, not parallel to proximal shield, often smaller than proximal shield; tube narrow; central area open, or with plate or irregular laths; delicate distal shield elements (>50% of distal shield area is slits)


Citation: Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann 1902) Hay & Mohler, in Hay et al. 1967
Rank: Species
Basionym: Pontosphaera huxleyi Lohmann 1902
Taxonomic discussion: Variability of extant E. huxleyi: Young & Westbroek (1991) distinguished four types (A, B, C & corona) based on heterococcolith morphology, see also van Bleijswijk et al. (1991) and Young (1994). Medlin et al. (1996) consider these types should be regarded as separate varieties, their proposed names are noted as synonyms of the types but since the status of these morphotypes is still being actively resrearched, and with conflicting results, we prefer to retain the informal morphotype designations. 
More recent research has both recognised more varieties and supported sub-dividing them into two sets - A Group and B Group. These two groups seem to be consistently separable using shape in profile, central area structures and degree of calcification, and there is no evidence of culture strains changing morphology from one group to the other.
Within each group numerous different varieties can be recognised but these tend to intergrade.
Bendif et al. (2019) used whole genome seuencing to analyse relationships within the extnat Neolerhabdacea and strongly supported spearation fo the type A vs type B groups

Gephyroscapsa huxleyi? It has long been infered that E. huxleyi evolved from Gephyrocapsa and this has been amply conformed by molecular genetic studies (e.g. Bendif et al 2019). Given this the genus Gephyrocapsa is paraphyletic unless Emiliania is placed in it and so some biologists favour this taxonomy. We do not follow this on the following grounds.
  1. The Noelaerhabdaceae are a group with a very extensive fossil record, so unless all species are placed in the same genus paraphyletic genera are inevitable (Young & Bown 1997).  
  2. Including E. huxleyi in Gephyrocapsa removes the morphological utility of the genus and makes it impossible to produce a definition of it which does not include all members of the Noelaerhabdaceae.
  3. The Noelaerhabdaceae are an abundant  group in the Cenozoic of great value for both biostratigraphy and paleoceanography.They are also diverse and their species-level taxonomy is dificult hence generic level is needed for practical study and communication - so the alternative of placing all species in one genus is not remotely desirable.

Distinguishing features: See generic diagnosis (monospecific)

Farinacci & Howe catalog pages: P. huxleyi * , C. cordus * , C. cucullus * , C. huxleyi tenuis * , C. adriaticus * , C. jonesi *

Morphology: Coccospheres often with multiple layers of coccoliths.
The open structure of E. huxleyi coccoliths makes them highly vulnerable to both overgrowth and etching.

Cultures: strains of this species are maintained in culture, for details see Roscoff culture collection.

Ecology & Biogeography: Ubiquitous species, often forming blooms. Dominant neritic species in the Atlantic, but G. oceanica fills this niche in much of the Indian Ocean and Pacific.

Search data:
TagsLITHS: placolith, elliptical, CA: ca_conjunct, grill, vacant,
CSPH: equant, monomorphic, CROSS-POLARS: rim-unicyclic, R-prominent,
MetricsLith size: 2->5µm; Coccosphere size: 4->10µm; Liths per sphere: 10->50
Data source notes: RCC
The morphological data given here can be used on the advanced search page. See also these notes

Geological Range:
Notes: Determining exact lacement of FAD is tricky even with SEM, but if E. huxleyi is common age is definitely within N21
Last occurrence (top): Extant Data source: zonal marker, e.g Young 1998
First occurrence (base): within NN21 zone (0.00-0.29Ma, base in Ionian stage). Data source: Young 1998

Plot of occurrence data:


Andruleit, H., Rogalla, U. & Staeger, S. (2005). Living coccolithophores recorded during the onset of upwelling conditions off Oman in the western Arabian Sea. Journal of Nannoplankton Research. 27(1): 1-14. gs V O

Bendif, E. et al. (2019). Repeated species radiations in the recent evolution of the key marine phytoplankton lineage Gephyrocapsa. Nature Communications. 10(2): 1-9. gs V O

Cohen, C. L. D. (1965). Coccoliths and discoasters, some aspects of their geologic use. Geologie en Mijnbouw. 55: 337-344. gs

Hay, W. W., Mohler, H. P., Roth, P. H., Schmidt, R. R. & Boudreaux, J. E. (1967). Calcareous nannoplankton zonation of the Cenozoic of the Gulf Coast and Caribbean-Antillean area, and transoceanic correlation. Transactions of the Gulf-Coast Association of Geological Societies. 17: 428-480. gs V O

Kamptner, E. (1930). Der Kalkflagellaten der Süsswaters und ihre Beziehungen zu jenen des Brackwassers und des Meeres. Internationale Revue der gesamten Hydrobiologie und Hydrographie. 24: 147-163. gs

Kamptner, E. (1943). Zur Revision der Coccolithineen-Spezies Pontosphaera huxleyi Lohm. Anzeiger der (Kaiserlichen) Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematische-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Wien. 80: 73-49. gs

Kamptner, E. (1967). Kalkflagellaten - Skelettreste aus Tiefseeschlamm des Südatlantischen Ozeans. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien. 71: 117-198. gs V O

Lecal, J. & Bernheim, A. (1960). Microstructure du squelette de quelques Coccolithophorides. Bulletin de la Société d'Histoire Naturelle de l'Afrique du Nord. 51: 273-297. gs

Lohmann, H. (1902). Die Coccolithophoridae, eine Monographie der Coccolithen bildenden Flagellaten, zugleich ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis des Mittelmeerauftriebs. Archiv für Protistenkunde. 1: 89-165. gs V O

Medlin, L. K. et al. (1996). Genetic characterization of Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyta). Journal of Marine Systems. 9: 13-32. gs

Müller, C. (1974b). Calcareous nannoplankton, Leg 25 (Western Indian Ocean). Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project. 25: 579-633. gs V O

Reinhardt, P. (1972). Coccolithen. Kalkiges Plankton seit Jahrmillionen. A. Ziemsen Verlag, . 1-99. gs

van Bleijswijk, J. et al. (1991). Distribution of two types of Emiliania huxleyi (Prymnesiophyceae) in the North East Atlantic Region as determined by immunoflourescence and electron microscopy. Journal of Phycology. 27(3): 566-570. gs

Winter, A., Reiss, Z. & Luz, B. (1979). Distribution of living coccolithophore assemblages in the Gulf of Elat ('Aqaba). Marine Micropaleontology. 4: 197-223. gs

Wise, S. W. & Wind, F. H. (1977). Mesozoic and Cenozoic calcareous nannofossils recovered by DSDP Leg 36 drilling on the Falkland Plateau, south-west Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project. 36(269-491): -. gs V O

Young, J. R. & Bown, P. R. (1997b). Higher classification of calcareous nannofossils. Journal of Nannoplankton Research. 19(1): 15-20. gs V O

Young, J. R. & Westbroek, P. (1991). Genotypic variation in the coccolithophorid species Emiliania huxleyi. Marine Micropaleontology. 18: 5-23. gs

Young, J. R. (1998). Neogene. In, Bown, P. R. (ed.) Calcareous Nannofossil Biostratigraphy. British Micropalaeontological Society Publication Series. 225-265. gs V O


Emiliania huxleyi compiled by Jeremy R. Young, Paul R. Bown, Jacqueline A. Lees viewed: 1-3-2021

Taxon Search:
Advanced Search

Short stable page link: https://mikrotax.org/Nannotax3/index.php?id=533 Go to Archive.is to create a permanent copy of this page - citation notes

Comments (1)

Sort By
Page 1 of 1
Mireille Ghoussoub (Toronto, Canada)

I am graduate student at the University of Toronto. Myself and my supervisor, Prof. Geoffrey Ozin, are seeking to reproduce an image from the microtax.org in a book that we are publishing on the topic of CO2 chemistry and climate change.

The manuscript will be published with the University of Toronto Press, Canada's leading academic publisher. We wish to request your permission to reproduce the following image: Young_etal_2003_113-19.JPG

Any information on possible use of this content would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Jeremy Young (Tonbridge, UK)

HI Mireille

Thanks for asking and yes that should be fine - I will email you directly.


Page 1 of 1

Add Comment

* Required information
Captcha Image
Powered by Commentics