phy·​to·​plank·​ton | \ ˌfī-tō-ˈplaŋ(k)-tən How to pronounce phytoplankton (audio) , -ˌtän\

Definition of phytoplankton

: planktonic plant life

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from phytoplankton

phytoplanktonic \ ˌfī-​tō-​plaŋ(k)-​ˈtä-​nik How to pronounce phytoplanktonic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of phytoplankton in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Most of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere was created over millions of years by microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton. NBC News, "Why is the Amazon rainforest important?," 9 Sep. 2019 Tiny phytoplankton in the ocean generate half of the oxygen produced on Earth. The Conversation,, "Amazon fires are alarming -- but, no, they won’t deplete Earth’s oxygen: The Conversation," 26 Aug. 2019 As the sea ice melts, ice algae and phytoplankton are released into the sea. Arwa Damon, CNN, "Arctic melt: Threat beneath the ice," 8 June 2019 Iron is one of the key nutrients that tiny phytoplankton organisms in the ocean need to thrive. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Humans May Be Accidentally Geoengineering the Oceans," 15 July 2019 Doing so could promote the growth of phytoplankton, which naturally suck up carbon dioxide. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Humans May Be Accidentally Geoengineering the Oceans," 15 July 2019 They are caused by several different microorganisms, all phytoplankton that use light energy to grow. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Red tides, explained," 5 July 2019 Risotto prepared with phytoplankton is a deep-green chlorophyll bomb. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "The best restaurants in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley," 1 July 2019 At sea, phytoplankton are responsible for 50% of all photosynthesis, a process more popularly associated with plants that takes carbon dioxide out of the environment and releases it back as oxygen. Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, "Climate change is threatening the microscopic creatures our lives depend on," 20 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phytoplankton.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of phytoplankton

1897, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phytoplankton

International Scientific Vocabulary

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about phytoplankton

Statistics for phytoplankton

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for phytoplankton

The first known use of phytoplankton was in 1897

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on phytoplankton Encyclopedia article about phytoplankton

Comments on phytoplankton

What made you want to look up phytoplankton? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!