International study provides new insight into marine ecosystem basis – ScienceDaily


Phytoplankton are the basis of ocean ecosystems: like tropical rainforests, they consume carbon from the atmosphere, form the basis of the marine food chain, and have a decisive influence on fish abundance and the global climate. An international study with the participation of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, which has just been published in the journal Scientists progress, provides new information on the complex biogeochemical processes underlying the marine ecosystem.

All life begins on a small scale, also in the ocean. Microscopic organisms, phytoplankton, form an important basis for the entire marine ecosystem, which ultimately determines how fish stocks develop and how much atmospheric carbon dioxide is taken up by the ocean. In this regard, understanding the foundations of the marine ecosystem is important for two basic questions for the future of our human population: nutrition and climate.

Scientists from Dalhousie University, University of Liverpool, GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have developed a new model to study the growth of phytoplankton in the ocean. The model has been coupled with metaproteomic and environmental data to allow precise predictions of phytoplankton growth rates, for example, in the Southern Ocean. “You can think of phytoplankton growth like industrial manufacturing in a factory: materials go into the factory and are processed on assembly lines, creating the end product,” says Scott McCain, lead author of the study. and doctoral student in the biology department. at Dalhousie University in Canada. “We asked ourselves how to increase production – that is, the amount of product leaving the factory,” adds McCain. Applied to phytoplankton, it means how can they grow faster?

“As part of the study, we discovered that phytoplankton rearranged their ‘cell assembly chains’ to do this,” explained Professor Eric Achterberg, co-author of the GEOMAR study. “We weren’t concerned about the amount of nutrients available, including iron and manganese, which are important for phytoplankton growth, but rather how the ‘cell assembly chains’ of phytoplankton process. source substances for their growth. adapt to changes, “Achterberg continued. To do this, the researchers created a mathematical model of a phytoplankton that allowed them to simulate these processes. The model was linked to data from Laboratory and Southern Ocean cruise on metaproteomics, dissolved iron and manganese. This has enabled them to obtain new explanations for various phytoplankton processes. “Our results show that cumulative cellular costs determine how environmental conditions alter the growth of phytoplankton “, explains Professor Achterberg.

“This fundamentally changes the way we view phytoplankton growth and will lead to better predictions of how phytoplankton will develop in the ocean,” adds Scott McCain. According to Canadian scientists, these results are also important for predictions of fish stock development and global climate change.

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Material provided by Helmholtz Center for Oceanic Research in Kiel (GEOMAR). Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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