Despite their microscopic size, phytoplankton are responsible for about half of the global primary production. This diverse group of organisms is an integral component of the global biosphere, driving biogeochemical cycling of important elements while exporting large amounts of carbon to deep waters and sediments. In coastal regions, these organisms also have a socioeconomically significance as they affect water quality and fisheries. Consequently, understanding the current distribution and productivity of phytoplankton in ecological important ocean basins and assess how and why the phytoplankton community may respond to perturbations driven by environmental change constitutes a major challenge in aquatic research.
We aim to understand community composition and productivity of phytoplankton in the worlds oceans. We also study phytoplankton communities and monclonal cultures under different environmental scenarios such as changes in temperature, light intensity and CO2 concentrations. A suite of in vivo assays based on standard and cutting-edge techniques will provide a mechanistic understanding of the observed responses. Processes such as productivity, cellular composition, photosynthesis and its efficiency, as well as the modes of carbon acquisition are targeted. Laboratory studies with isolated monoclonal cultures will increase our process understanding of how and why the most important phytoplankton species found in the different regions respond to a future oceanic environment.