Phytoplankton, the plants at the base of the food chain

Phytoplankton, the plants at the base of the food chain


Phytoplankton, the plants at the base of the food chain, are constantly decreasing in the oceans

August 27, 2010

The news should be of great concern because we are talking about Phytoplankton, that is to say of those plant organisms of very small dimensions (a few thousandths of a millimeter) which are nothing but algae able to perform, thanks to the energy provided by the sun, chlorophyll photosynthesis. , i.e. the transformation of inorganic compounds such as water and carbon dioxide into organic elements such as glucose, a basic element from which, through various chemical reactions that take place inside the cell, we arrive at the synthesis of all organic compounds that characterize living beings. In practice we speak of the dentists of the survival of all animal organisms, including man.

Daniel G. Boyce, Boris Worm and Marlon R. Lewis researchers from the Dalhousie University in Canada (2), have studied and elaborated measurements from 1899 to today, in order to have a complete picture of the state of phytoplankton concentration. The results obtained were disconcerting: they showed a decrease of about 40% compared to 1950 with a constant decrease of about 1% per year.

"Phytoplankton provides food for virtually the entire ecosystem, from fish to humans," says Dr. Boyce and goes on to say that "Phytoplankton is also important for maintaining sustainable fishing activities and the overall health of the sea. We must ensure that it does not continue to decline" because it ultimately constitutes about half of all plant organisms on our planet. .

The cause of this decrease hypothesized by the researchers is the increase in the temperature of the oceans as it was observed that the greatest drops were recorded where the waters had undergone greater temperature increases and this is explained by the fact that more hot limits the amount of nutrients that could be exploited by the phytoplankton for its survival.


  1. Original photograph courtesy NASA
  2. The news was published by Dalhousie University; while the complete study The global decrease of phytoplankton in the last century you can find it in the magazineNature dated 29/07/2010 or whose authors are Daniel G. Boyce, E Boris Worm both of the Department of Biology of the Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) and Marlon R. Lewis of the Department of Oceanography of the Dalhousie University, Halifax , Nova Scotia (Canada).

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