The external covering of cococliths around each coccolithophore cell is known as the coccosphere. The coccosphere has to exhibit sufficient rigidity to form a protective covering, but needs to be flexible to ensure that the cell is fully covered as it grows and divides. MBA PhD student Charlotte Walker has shown that coccolithophores produce a range of different extracellular polysaccharides that help to tether the coccoliths in position during these processes.

The work has been published in Frontiers of Marine Science.