Home Science BOFFINS capture the morphological & genetic diversity of entire PLANKTON community

BOFFINS capture the morphological & genetic diversity of entire PLANKTON community


The tiny organisms found at the bottom of the ocean play a huge role in ensuring that life underwater can continue. On one hand, they greatly impact the presence of oxygen in the water, and greatly improve the cleanliness of the water. Even some of the more questionable organisms, like bacteria’s and viruses are actually considered a positive part of the overall tree of life underwater. That’s why scientists have been so concerned for so long when it comes to the warming temperatures.

Climate scientists have always known that there was a severe pinch happening underwater, as temperatures rose, and the organisms in our oceans were left to figure out the rest. Another thing that climate scientists have known for some time is that humans are playing a massive role in pushing climate change along, which is fueling the warmth of our oceans. This massive warming trend is something that can be stopped, but something that people haven’t allowed to happen. Between corporate interests and the pure politics of stopping global warming and climate change – it simply hasn’t materialized the way it needs to.

Now though, there is even more overwhelming evidence that the change needs to happen soon, as scientists have uncovered just how many organisms are actually living down there – and how important they are to the ecosystem under the surface of the water in our oceans. Dr. Chris Bowler, of the National Centre for Scientific Research points out that with this research, “We have the most complete description yet of planktonic organisms to date: what’s there in terms of viruses, bacteria and protozoa – we finally have a catalogue of what is present globally.”

The study went on to point out that the plankton that are found at the bottom of the ocean account for around 90% of the entire span of ocean life. However, Dr. Bowler went on to point out that plankton weren’t the only thing that was discovered and documented throughout this study. He went on saying, “For the viruses, we describe about 5,000 virus communities – only 39 of these were previously known. And for protists – unicellular organisms – we estimate something like 150,000 different taxa. There are about 11,000 formally described species of plankton – we have evidence for at least 10 times more than that.”


Dr. Stephen Palumbi, a marine biologist with Stanford University pointed out though that the scope is significantly greater than what scientists originally thought. He said, “A lot of what we didn’t really ever see before in the ocean are predators and parasites, zombies and vampires that are floating through this incredible set of diversity, battling it out.” He continued by pointing out, “All these tiny little critters add up to something that is really a part of the way our planet operates.”

The sheer scope and volume of what was learned through this study is something that doesn’t have any limits right now. The additional learning and research is something that will give scientist a bigger base to work from than they ever had before.

SOURCEScience Mag
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