Evolutionary Rates in the Haptophyta: Exploring Molecular and Phenotypic Diversity

Jorijntje Henderiks*, Daniela Sturm, Luka Šupraha, Gerald Langer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Haptophytes are photosynthetic protists found in both freshwater and marine environ-ments with an origin possibly dating back to the Neoproterozoic era. The most recent molecular phylogeny reveals several haptophyte “mystery clades” that await morphological verification, but it is otherwise highly consistent with morphology-based phylogenies, including that of the cocco-lithophores (calcifying haptophytes). The fossil coccolith record offers unique insights into extinct lineages, including the adaptive radiations that produced extant descendant species. By combining molecular data of extant coccolithophores and phenotype-based studies of their ancestral lineages, it has become possible to probe the modes and rates of speciation in more detail, although this approach is still limited to only few taxa because of the lack of whole-genome datasets. The evolution of calcification likely involved several steps, but its origin can be traced back to an early association with organic scales typical for all haptophytes. Other key haptophyte traits, including the haplo-diplontic life cycle, are herein mapped upon the coccolithophorid phylogeny to help navigate a discussion of their ecological benefits and trade-offs in a rapidly changing ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Article number798
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • adaptive evolution
  • coccolithophores
  • coccoliths
  • functional traits
  • haplo-diplontic life cycle
  • haptophytes
  • marine fossil record
  • molecular phylogeny
  • phytoplankton


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