Gephyrocapsa oceanica is a cosmopolitan bloom-forming coccolithophore species belonging to the haptophyte order Isochrysidales and family Noëlaerhabdaceae. Exclusively pelagic, G. oceanica is commonly found in modern oceans and in fossil assemblages. Its sister species Emiliania huxleyi is known to possess a haplo-diplontic life cycle, the non-motile diploid coccolith-bearing cells alternating with haploid cells that are motile and covered by non-mineralized organic scales.
Since the cytology and ultrastructure of other members of the Noëlaerhabdaceae has never been reported, it is not clear whether these features are common to the family. Here, we report on the ultrastructure of both the non-motile calcifying stage and the non-calcifying motile stage of G. oceanica. We found no significant ultrastructural differences between E. huxleyi and G. oceanica either in the calcifying diploid stage or the haploid phase. The similarities between these two morphospecies demonstrated a high degree of conservation of cytological features. We discuss the significance of these results in the light of the evolution of the Noelaerhabdaceae