New Plankton Study Reveals ‘Treasure Trove’ of Valuable Data

posted: 05/22/15
by: Danny Clemens
Plankton from Tara Oceans
Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expéditions

Contrary to common belief, up to half of the oxygen produced through photosynthesis actually comes from plankton, small organisms that float freely through the world's oceans. Although the creatures are widespread (they comprise up to 90% of marine life by mass) and play an important biological role, they are comparatively poorly studied -- until now.

A group of researchers representing the Tara Oceans consortium spent more than three years studying plankton around the world. The team collected upwards of 35,000 samples of plankton from all major oceanic regions, giving them unprecedented access to the marine creatures.

"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 catalog of what is present globally," Dr Chris Bowler, from the National Centre for Scientific Research, told BBC News.

The consortium's research is published as a series of five reports in the latest issue of the journal Science.

Learn more about the world's oceans:

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Making Ocean Deep

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