Coccolithophorids form a major component of the oceanic microplankton and consequently are of great interdisciplinary interest. For marine biologists, they are one of the main open ocean primary producers. For biogeochemists, they play key roles in the global carbon, carbonate and sulphur cycles (Westbroek et al. 1993, 1994) For marine geologists, coccoliths constitute the single most important component of deep-sea oozes and chalks and provide key floral, isotopic, and biomarker signals for interpreting global change in the geological record. For palaeontologists, their exceptional fossil record makes them an outstanding biostratigraphic group and gives them unusual potential for testing evolutionary hypotheses (Young et al. 1994 ).

      The project

      CODENET is a research network of eight european geological and marine biological teams who are carrying out an integrated multidisciplinary study of six coccolithophorid species in order to address fundamental problems of high level biological diversity within the group, microevolutionary pattern and process, and their ecological adaptation and impact. We believe that the project will both provide an effective framework for a range of specialist studies and enable us to address larger issues which require a mutlutidisciplinary approach.


      This research constitutes a network project of the EC Training and Mobility of Researchers Program (TMR). The TMR provides funding for young visiting researchers (usually PostDocs) in most participating teams, costs associated with network activities (especially exchange visits between the teams and workshop meetings) and a contribution toward the direct costs and overheads associated with the work. Total EC funding is 1.4M ECU, and the Swiss National Science foundation provides separate support of 229kECU for the Zuerich team. Full details of the TMR program and opportunities for submitting proposals to it are available on the TMR WWW Site.

      NHM role

      The NHM team is one of the eight participant teams in the project and additionally is resposible for co-ordination of the project (co-ordinating scientist, Dr. Jeremy R. Young of the Palaeontology Department). The project is a key component of the NHM/UCL Global Change and the Biosphere research theme.

      Separate pages on this site provide information on:

      The three main work areas of the Codenet project (i.e. foci of our objectives)

      The eight participant research teams

      • The Natural History Museum, London [NHM]
      • Eidgensssische Technische Hochschule, Zuerich, Geologisches Institut [ETHZ]
      • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Aardwetenschapen [FdA-VUA]
      • Universite de Caen Basse-Normandie [U. Caen]
      • Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar & Marine Research, Bremerhaven [AWI]
      • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificias - Instituto de Ciencias del Mar, Barcelona [CSIC]
      • Museu Nacional de Historia Natural da Universidade de Lisboa [MNHN-UL]
      • Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee [NIOZ]

      The six species being studied

      • Coccolithus pelagicus
      • Umbilicosphaera sibogae
      • Helicosphaera carteri
      • Calcidiscus leptoporus
      • Gephyrocapsa oceanica
      • Syracosphaera pulchra
      • (Emiliania huxleyi)

      The fifteen different types of research task being undertaken

      • RT1. Culture isolation and maintenance (ETHZ, U. Caen)
      • RT2. Life-Cycle study (U. Caen)
      • RT3. Molecular genetics (AWI)
      • RT4. Lipid biomarker composition and palaeothermal calibration (CSIC, NIOZ)
      • RT5. Photosynthetic pigment studies. (CSIC, NIOZ)
      • RT6. Coccolith ultrastructure analysis (NHM)
      • RT7. TEM fine structural studies (U. Caen)
      • RT8. Phylogenetic synthesis (NHM, AWI)
      • RT9. Physiological characterisation (NHM, ETHZ, CSIC)
      • RT10. Morphological work on cultured samples. (NHM, ETHZ, MNHN-UL)
      • RT11. Study of plankton assemblages - ecological characterisation (ETHZ, FdA-VUA, CSIC, MNHN-UL)
      • RT12. Sediment trap studies - flux rates and seasonal succession. (ETHZ, FdA-VUA)
      • RT13. Holocene sediment samples - global biogeography. (ETHZ, FdA-VUA MNHN-UL).
      • RT14. Geological sample studies - microevolution and ecological response. (NHM, ETHZ, FdA-VUA, MNHN-UL).
      • RT15. Macroevolutionary studies - divergence times of the lineages. (NHM, ETHZ).

      Return to: top, Introduction, Phylogeny, Microevolution, Ecology, Research Tasks, Team Details, The Species

      CODENET WWW Site Index Page

      This page is based on the CODENET proposal, as accepted for funding by TMR, June 1997