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THE ECO-GENOMICS OF PHYTOPLANKTON: AN OUTLOOK ON THE FUTURE $100.00
Authors:  Alberto Amato and Luisa Orsini
Abstract:
The community structure and functioning of marine ecosystems is strongly
dependent on eukaryotic phytoplankton, which dominates the modern oceans and is
responsible for most flux of organic matter. Most importantly, higher trophic levels such
as fish and marine mammals depend on short food chains driven by bloom-forming
phytoplankton. Past genetic work on marine phytoplankton has mainly focused on
descriptive studies, inferring the extent of biodiversity at or below the species level. More
recently, the development of new genetic tools and the sequence of full genomes of a
handful of phytoplankton species allowed a breakthrough in functional genomics and
developed insights into key ecological processes, such as toxin metabolism, cell mortality
processes, and DMSO metabolism.
While these latter results represent an encouraging step forward in our understanding
of phytoplankton communities, the link between biodiversity and the functioning of
pelagic ecosystems is still missing. To interpret the biological processes driving
biodiversity, a mechanistic understanding of single gene effects in natural populations
and their feedback at community level is required. This can be achieved with the help of
mesocosms (controlled environments), which scale up nicely to natural environments. 


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THE ECO-GENOMICS OF PHYTOPLANKTON: AN OUTLOOK ON THE FUTURE