A proton buffering role for silica in diatoms

Allen J. Milligan, Francois M. M. Morel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


For 40 million years, diatoms have dominated the reverse weathering of silica on Earth. These photosynthetic protists take up dissolved silicic acid from the water and precipitate opaline silica to form their cell wall. We show that the biosilica of diatoms is an effective pH buffer, enabling the enzymatic conversion of bicarbonate to CO2, an important step in inorganic carbon acquisition by these organisms. Because diatoms are responsible for one-quarter of global primary production and for a large fraction of the carbon exported to the deep sea, the global cycles of Si and C may be linked mechanistically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1848-1850
Number of pages3
Issue number5588
StatePublished - Sep 13 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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