Micropearls in marine and freshwaters

Unicellular algae play important roles in the biogeochemical cycles of numerous elements, particularly through the biomineralization capacity of certain species (e.g., coccolithophores greatly contributing to the “organic carbon pump” of the oceans), and unidentified actors of these cycles are still being discovered.

This is the case of the unicellular alga Tetraselmis cordiformis (Chlorophyta) that was recently discovered to form intracellular mineral inclusions, called micropearls, which had been previously overlooked. These intracellular inclusions of hydrated amorphous calcium carbonates (ACCs) were first described in Lake Geneva (Switzerland) and are the result of a novel biomineralization process. The genus Tetraselmis includes more than 30 species that have been widely studied since the description of the type species in 1878.

Marine and freshwater micropearls: biomineralization producing strontium-rich amorphous calcium carbonate inclusions is widespread in the genus Tetraselmis (Chlorophyta)