Phytoplankton photosynthesis is an incredibly important process and its significance should not be underestimated. Without phytoplankton, the world would be a very different place. Not only do they produce the oxygen that we need to survive, but they are also the base of the marine food web and are important for regulating the global climate. Phytoplankton photosynthesis is responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps to slow the effects of climate change. In addition, phytoplankton are powerful indicators of ocean health and can be used to monitor changes in temperature, nutrient levels, and other important oceanographic parameters.
SPOTLIGHT ON PHYTOPLANKTON
➤ What are phytoplankton?
➤ Phytoplankton dynamics
➤ Phytoplankton and climate change
➤ Studying phytoplankton
Phytoplankton, algae and cyanobacteria produce energy using oxygenic photosynthesis. It’s a non-cyclic photosynthetic electron chain where phytoplankton absorb atmospheric CO2 dissolved into the seawater and capture sunlight using chlorophyll A during daytimes to produce chemical energy. In this process, the initial electron donor is water, and molecular O2 gets released as a photosynthetic byproduct. The captured CO2, following the carbon fixation process, gets converted into glucose (sugar), that the phytoplankton use as the primary source of energy to fuel the cellular processes.
The importance of phytoplankton photosynthesis extends beyond the scientific realm. Phytoplankton are a major source of energy for ocean ecosystems and provide energy for higher trophic level animals and ultimately, humans. This energy is essential for many of our food sources such as fish, shellfish, and other marine organisms. Moreover, phytoplankton photosynthesis helps to keep the ocean healthy by providing essential nutrients and creating an environment where other organisms can thrive, as well as playing a major role in the global climate.
Phytoplankton photosynthetic physiology can be investigated through single turnover active fluorometry (STAF) approaches, which carries the unique potential to autonomously collect data at high spatial and temporal resolutions. Chelsea Technologies’ LabSTAF is a new generation fluorometer that uses single turnover active fluorometry to measure very low levels of photosynthesis, ideal for oligotrophic zonesPhytoplankton photosynthesis is an incredibly important process. It is the foundation of the entire marine food web and the primary source of oxygen in the atmosphere. Phytoplankton photosynthesis also plays a key role in global climate regulation, as it is responsible for sequestering vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Phytoplankton are also powerful indicators of ocean health, and can be used to monitor changes in temperature, nutrient levels, and other important oceanographic parameters. Finally, phytoplankton photosynthesis is a major source of energy for ocean ecosystems, providing energy for higher trophic level animals and ultimately, humans. Therefore, it is important to understand the importance of this process in order to ensure the health of our planet and its inhabitants for generations to come.
Phytoplankton photosynthesis can be measured through fluorescence, oxygen measurements, or the formation of pigments such as chlorophyll a. Fluorescence measurements measure the amount of light that is given off by the phytoplankton when they are exposed to various light sources while oxygen measurements measure the amount of oxygen produced by the phytoplankton when they photosynthesize. Pigment measurements measure the amount of chlorophyll a, which is a pigment that all phytoplankton produce when they photosynthesize. The main advantage of using fluorescence to measure phytoplankton photosynthesis is that it is non-invasive and can be used to measure changes in photosynthesis in real-time. Fluorescence can also measure photosynthesis in a variety of light regimes and nutrient concentrations. This makes it an ideal method for measuring photosynthesis under changing environmental conditions.