Coccolithophores in Polar Waters: Papposphaera sagittifera HET and HOL revisited

Helge Abildhauge Thomsen, Jette B. Østergaard, Mikal Heldal

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The re-examination of the lightly calcified Arctic coccolithophore species, Papposphaera sagittifera, has some inherent challenges due to the research history on this taxon. It is thus obvious in retrospect that the species description based on just a single specimen does not adequately account for the true identity of this taxon. Today we are aware of the existence of at least three species of Papposphaera that have basically the same calyx design while being differentiated based on patterns of central area calcification. In order to remedy this we emend here the description of P. sagittifera and provide an epitype for the species. When realizing that species pairs of Papposphaera and Turrisphaera share a life history, the new combination, P. borealis, was established to accommodate P. sagittifera and T. borealis. However, it turns out that 'sagittifera' is in fact the senior epithet by a few months, which means that the correct name for the species is P. sagittifera with T. borealis added as a synonym. While the P. sagittifera HET and HOL morphological variability across Arctic sites clearly leaves the impression of a single, fairly well defined species, the situation is different with respect to the occurrence of P. sagittifera in Antarctic waters. While there are obvious similarities between P. sagittifera HET across the Polar Regions there are also subtle differences, and most importantly it has been found that the Antarctic P. sagittifera shares a life history with a species of Turrisphaera that is markedly different from T. borealis. While awaiting molecular evidence the Antarctic material is tentatively referred to as P. sagittifera cfr.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Protozoologica
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)33-50
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)
  • Coccolithophore
  • Electron microscopy
  • P. sagittifera
  • Papposphaera
  • Polar regions
  • T. borealis
  • Turrisphaera
  • NOV
  • polar regions
  • electron microscopy

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