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Adaptations that the phytoplankton possess?

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Phytoplankton Adaptations
Unlike most land plants, phytoplakton (algae) do not require true roots, stems, or leaves, because they can
absorb water and nutrients directly from their environment. Phytoplankton have a great variety of unique
patterns, shapes, and forms. Instead of leafs and blades they have developed numerous pores, spines, and
other projections. The function of these projections is to increase the surface area of the plant body itself,
reduce the sinking rate, facilitate absorption of nutrients and increased exposure to sunlight for
photosynthesis. By the action of the sun's rays on chlorophyll (light absorbing pigments found within the
phytoplankton cell) these plants produce carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and oxygen. These products in turn are
consumed directly or indirectly by all other marine life forms from zooplankton to fishes. Listed below are
some examples of phytoplankton adaptations:


single celled or loose aggregates of cells which require fewer nutrients
· small size to achieve high surface area:volume ratios
· complex shapes to increase surface area but not volume by adding spines and bristles to the general cell
shape, or long extensions of the cell wall
· transparent, appear nearly visible to predators
· locomotion by using cilia, flagella, or cyplasmic extensions=foot-like structure
· cell shapes include rods, ribbons, chains, discs, spheres, and leaf-like
· to remain within a given water mass cells link together to form chains; chain-like colonies held together by
discs (threads of gelatinous matrices, or siliceous extensions of the valves) or by rods (mucous pads or faces
of valves join)
· flotation devices include production of low density fluids, water filled vacuoles or cavities, storage of oils in
cells to decrease specific gravity (diatoms)
· passively absorb nutrients
· only penate diatoms are capable of locomotion through a wave-like motion when the cytoplasmic surface is
in contact with another surface
· centric diatoms float better than pennate diatoms, that are usually living on the shallow ocean floor or
attached to floating objects
· foraminiferans form a reticulopodia, a network of cytoplasmic feet used for suspension in the water
column and to capture food
radiolarians increase surface area with a cytoplasmic covering= axopodia used for capture and ingestion of
food
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