Emiliania huxleyi cells show rather typical algal cell organisation with:

  • prominent membrane-bounded organelles including chloroplasts (the site of photosynthesis)
  • the nucleus (where the DNA occurs)
  • mitochondria (the site of cellular biosynthesis)
  • a golgi body
  • an endoplasmic reticulum

The most distinctive aspect is that the coccoliths are formed inside the cell, in a 'coccolith vesicle'. After the coccolith has formed this vesicle migrates to the edge of the cell and fuses with the cell membrane so that the coccolith is extruded into the coccosphere.

  • Diagram of the lifecycle of Emiliania huxleyi
    Reproduction and lifecycle

    Emiliania huxleyi can reproduce asexually via binary fission and alternates between having a single copy or two copies of each chromosome. Learn more about the cell division process of this species and how its dimorphic lifecycle helps maintain genetic diversity.