Thank the Planktons - They have Much Broader Biodiversity Than Previously ThoughtDaniel McCarthy (Author) Published Date : May 22, 2015 19:55 IST
According to researchers, the Plankton, viruses, the tiny plants and embryonic fish that constitute favourite food for the whales supply much of the oxygen needed by the planet. The importance of Planktons is because they are regarded as the base for the marine food chain while also providing more than half the oxygen generated on planet Earth through the process of photosynthesis.
[caption id=attachment_8080 align=aligncenter width=526] Mixed Marine Plankton[/caption]
Scientists also noticed that these organisms are significantly more complex than they were imagined to be, according to studies published in the journal Science describing the findings during a multiyear research called Tara Oceans project.
New knowledge for science
International scientists aboard Tara, the French Schooner, embarked on expeditions between 2009 and 2013 taking as many as 35,0000 samples of plankton that included bacteria, viruses, fish larvae, and single cell algae, all from major regions in the ocean.
Patrick Wincker, the researcher from French National Sequencing Centre, Genoscope stated that this is the largest DNA sequencing process ever done for ocean science and analyses revealed some 40 million genes, most of which are new to the scientific world hinting at a significantly broader biodiversity of plankton than was known previously.
These findings from the Tara Oceans project are now available to scientists interested, in the Ocean Microbial Reference catalogue that has been newly created. Information on the ocean s depth, salinity, temperature, and interactions between the tiny living beings in the water, has also been collected by the research vessel.
Jeroen Raes of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology and Free University of Brussels said that when they mapped how the planktonic organisms from small animal larvae to viruses interact with the other, it was discovered that most of the interactions are parasitic, recycling the nutrients back to the food chain.
And, when it came to viruses, the team could identify over 5,000 viral populations throughout the upper parts of the oceans around the world.
Jennifer Brum from the University of Arizona adds that surprisingly inspite of several decades of marine viral research in the past, only 39 of the 5,000 populations were similar to populations that were known previously.
Thank the Planktons - They have Much Broader Biodiversity Than Previously Thought