Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) biomineralizing organisms have played major roles in the history of life and the global carbon cycle during the past 541 Ma. Both marine diversification and mass extinctions reflect physiological responses to environmental changes through time. An integrated understanding of carbonate biomineralization is necessary to illuminate this evolutionary record and to understand how modern organisms will respond to 21st century global change. Biomineralization evolved independently but convergently across phyla, suggesting a unity of mechanism that transcends biological differences. In this review, we combine CaCO3 skeleton formation mechanisms with constraints from evolutionary history, omics, and a meta-analysis of isotopic data to develop a plausible model for CaCO3 biomineralization applicable to all phyla. The model provides a framework for understanding the environmental sensitivity of marine calcifiers, past mass extinctions, and resilience in 21st century acidifying oceans. Thus, it frames questions about the past, present, and future of CaCO3 biomineralizing organisms.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for funding and hosting the workshop ?Biomineralization: integrating mechanism and evolutionary history? on 11 and 12 July 2019. All coauthors of this paper participated in intense discussions for 2 days in person and 2 years by email to achieve consensus. Thus, this paper is the direct result of that workshop. Thank you, Radcliffe!
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