Press release

Emiliania huxleyi – an algal dwarf which impacts on the global climate

Mass reproduction of coccolithophores in the Barents Sea , caught by a NASA satellite. When the algae die, the calcified platelets are released into the water and scatter sunlight so that the water appears light blue. Platelets of intact algal cells do not scatter light. Therefore, whether coccolithophores dominate an algal bloom or not can only be seen from space once most individuals have already died and released their calcified platelets. Photo: Jacques Descloitres, NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response

Algal researchers of the German Society for Plant Sciences have chosen Emiliania huxleyi as alga of the year to highlight its importance as a global key organism.

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Press release

More images of the alga Emiliania huxleyi

Calcified scales cover Emiliania huxleyi. The shape of the liths is characteristic of different species of coccolithophores but can only be distinguished under Scanning Electron Microscopy, as in this image. Photo: Dr. Björn Rost, Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung

Photos of the press release "Alga of the Year 2009: Emiliania huxleyi – an algal dwarf which impacts on the global climate


The use of the image of Dr. Björn Rost is only permitted in connection with reporting on the topic ‘alga of the year 2009’ and only if the photographers are acknowledged in the format: first name, second name, institution. Commercial use of the images is not permitted. If you would like to use the images for any other purpose please contact Dr. Björn Rost.

Terms and conditions for use of NASA images are available at">

download images (satellite and microscopy)

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Contacts for the media

Prof. Dr. Peter Kroth

Speaker of the Phycology Section

Universität Konstanz
Fachbereich Biologie
Tel. ++49 (0) 7531-884816
E-Mail: peter.kroth[at]

Dr. Björn Rost

Head of the working group PhytoChange and expert for Emiliania

Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Bremerhaven
Tel.: ++49 (0) 471/4831-1809 (9-15 Uhr)
E-Mail: Bjoern.Rost[at]

Further Information

Members of the Phycology Section (Algology) ("> conduct research on algae and investigate, amongst others, taxonomical, ecological, physiological and molecular topics on macro- and microalgae. The Section promotes algal research and supports young scientists. The Section is one of five subject-specific Sections of the German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG,

Text: Dr. Esther Schwarz-Weig:">
Translation: Dr. Dagmar Stengel: National University of Ireland, Galway