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Postgraduate research project

How do calcifying marine organisms grow? Determining the role of non-classical precipitation processes in biogenic marine calcite formation

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The shells of planktonic marine calcifying organisms represent one of the largest long-term carbon sinks on Earth’s surface and are an important archive of geochemical systems that record past climate change. As such, and because the response of these organisms to anthropogenic climate change may be an important carbon cycle feedback, it is vitally important to understand how these organisms calcify.

There is growing evidence that most marine calcifying organisms produce crystalline calcite or aragonite (CaCO3) via a ‘precursor’ phase, usually amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC). However, no laboratory experiment has succeeded in producing CaCO3 via an amorphous precursor with the characteristics of biological marine calcites. Solving this issue would constrain an important component of the biomineralisation process and enable us to understand the sensitivity of calcification to past, present, and future environmental change.

This project will experimentally determine the physical and chemical conditions required to form calcite via ACC with the geochemical and structural properties of that of marine organisms. Ultimately, the project will build this information into a biomineralisation model to help mechanistically underpin our understanding of the extent to which marine organisms will be impacted by future climate change and ocean acidification.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Dr David Evans (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Chris Pearce (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Professor Sumeet Mahajan (University of Southampton)