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

Definition of phytoplankton

: planktonic plant life

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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 Aerosols do occur naturally, and one prominent source is the phytoplankton and bacteria in the ocean. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Using pristine Southern Ocean air to estimate pre-industrial pollution," 31 July 2020 The mineral fragments that make up the Sahara dust plume are often rich in iron and phosphorus; both plants on land and phytoplankton in the sea need those nutrients to grow. Alejandra Borunda, National Geographic, "Saharan dust is bad for health. But it’s also crucial to Earth’s biology and climate," 30 June 2020 Methylmercury journeys up the food chain from phytoplankton and zooplankton to fish and humans. New York Times, "An Unexpected Dinner Guest: Marine Plastic Pollution Hides a Neurological Toxin in Our Food," 7 May 2020 The study, published Thursday in Current Biology, analyzed how the quantity of 304 marine species—including tiny phytoplankton, seagrass, algae, fish, reptiles, marine mammals, and seabirds—has changed over the past century. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "Ocean Species Are Shifting toward the Poles," 27 Mar. 2020 When spring arrives, the phytoplankton bloom removes carbon dioxide from the water through photosynthesis, and the water gets warmer, making conditions more favorable for shell production. Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska halibut fishermen face a flattened market and fire-sale prices amid coronavirus crisis," 24 Mar. 2020 Increasing phytoplankton productivity by just 1 percent would have the same effect as the sudden appearance of 2 billion mature trees, according to the study. Washington Post, "Saving whales would help the planet more than planting trees, new study says," 20 Nov. 2019 Observing Earth in 36 different spectral bands, NASA scientist Norman Kuring used the full spectrum captured by the Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to make the phytoplankton blooms visible, Carlowicz said. Matt Berg,, "NASA captures images of Cape Cod as spring begins to stir," 10 Mar. 2020 The tests suggest that nutrients leeched from the ash could spur phytoplankton growth, particularly during times of the year when the ocean is short on nutrients. Jenessa Duncombe, Smithsonian Magazine, "Could Wildfire Ash Feed the Ocean’s Tiniest Life-Forms?," 4 Mar. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of phytoplankton

1897, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phytoplankton

phyto- + plankton

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Time Traveler for phytoplankton

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The first known use of phytoplankton was in 1897

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Statistics for phytoplankton

Cite this Entry

“Phytoplankton.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

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