Productivity is expected to drop because as the surface waters warm, the water column becomes increasingly stratified; there is less vertical mixing to recycle nutrients from deep waters back to the surface. Derived from the Greek words phyto (plant) and plankton (made to wander or drift), phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments, both salty and fresh. Diatom, (class Bacillariophyceae), any member of the algal class Bacillariophyceae (division Chromophyta), with about 16,000 species found in sediments or attached to solid substances in all the waters of Earth. Some phytoplankton can fix nitrogen and can grow in areas where nitrate concentrations are low. Shifts in the relative abundance of larger versus smaller species of phytoplankton have been observed already in places around the world, but whether it will change overall productivity remains uncertain. Living diatoms generate 20% of the oxygen that is produced on the planet in one year. (Graph adapted from Behrenfeld et al. Both utilize phytoplankton as food for the animals being farmed. These images show a bloom near Kamchatka on June 2, 2010. Phytoplankton are extremely diverse, varying from photosynthesizing bacteria (cyanobacteria), to plant-like diatoms, to armor-plated coccolithophores (drawings not to scale). In this region, diatom cell densities are typically low, mainly because of restricted availability of iron, but population sizes are nevertheless considerable given the extent of the region. It covers their life cycle, general morphology, and ecology and distribution. The biggest influence on year-to-year differences in global phytoplankton productivity is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern. One group, the coccolithophorids, is responsible (in part) for the release of significant amounts of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) into the atmosphere. Culture sizes range from small-scale laboratory cultures of less than 1L to several tens of thousands of liters for commercial aquaculture. All diatoms have a siliceous (glassy) exoskeleton of two halves that fit inside one another perfectly. Behrenfeld, M.J. and Boss, E.S. These images show two species of diatoms, both are single celled organisms that are linked to form chains. They are agents for primary production, the creation of organic compounds from carbon dioxide dissolved in the water, a process that sustains the aquatic food web. In spring and summer, phytoplankton bloom at high latitudes and decline in subtropical latitudes. ENSO cycles are significant changes from typical sea surface temperatures, wind patterns, and rainfall in the Pacific Ocean along the equator. Light must be provided for the growth of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton, like land plants, require nutrients such as nitrate, phosphate, silicate, and calcium at various levels depending on the species. Marine biologists use plankton nets to sample phytoplankton directly from the ocean. The photosynthetically fixed carbon is rapidly recycled and reused in the surface ocean, while a certain fraction of this biomass is exported as sinking particles to the deep ocean, where it is subject to ongoing transformation processes, e.g., remineralization. Most of them are buoyant in nature and float near the surface of the water. This has led to some scientists advocating iron fertilization as a means to counteract the accumulation of human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Investigation of different coastal processes in Indonesian waters using SeaWiFS data. The majority of cultured plankton is marine, and seawater of a specific gravity of 1.010 to 1.026 may be used as a culture medium. Phytoplankton can also be the harbingers of death or disease. The transition between El Niño and its counterpart, La Niña, is sometimes accompanied by a dramatic surge in phytoplankton productivity as upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water is suddenly renewed. They have little or no ability to move so they are carried away by different currents and surfaces. Since phytoplankton are the basis of marine food webs, they serve as prey for zooplankton, fish larvae and other heterotrophic organisms. Response of diatoms distribution to global warming and potential implications: A global model study. Righetti, D., Vogt, M., Gruber, N., Psomas, A. and Zimmermann, N.E. Phytoplankton use up the nutrients available, and growth falls off until winter storms kick-start mixing. The water may turn greenish, reddish, or brownish. (NASA image by Jesse Allen & Robert Simmon, based on SeaWiFS data from the GSFC Ocean Color team.). Changes in water clarity, nutrient content, and salinity change the species that live in a given place. 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