Engineering

A robotic microplankton sniffer dog

Marine phytoplankton, or plant plankton, are incredibly important to life on Earth. As they go about their work of turning sunlight into energy, they produce fully 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe.

Plankton

Plankton (singular plankter) are any drifting organisms (animals, plants, archaea, or bacteria) that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification. They provide a crucial source of food to larger, more familiar aquatic organisms such as fish and whales.

Though many planktic (or planktonic—see section on Terminology) species are microscopic in size, plankton includes organisms covering a wide range of sizes, including large organisms such as jellyfish.

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