WHAT WE DO
Plankton is the basis of the food chain for entire ocean and beyond. It produces more than 50% of oxygen that we breath. It is also a major climate regulator, absorbing manmade CO2 emissions. Ranging from viruses to animals, the biodiversity of plankton is vast, largely unexplored, and little understood. The planet’s changing climate and ocean acidification are already impacting plankton populations.
Plankton Planet’s mission is to provide the data necessary to enhance our understanding of our evolving planet at this critical juncture. By combining this dynamic biological information about plankton populations with new models of our ocean’s systems, we will be able to better predict changes to our blue planet.
Plankton Planet is a non-profit organization that promotes excellence in citizen science and advances our understanding of the plankton ecosystem on a global scale. Our innovative, high-quality, low-cost program is creating a worldwide database thanks to Planktonauts – motivated individuals of the international sailing community – and a transversal team of top scientists.
Plankton Planet is the first citizen science program based on mass sequencing of DNA barcodes from extracts of plankton communities collected worldwide by a fleet of Planktonauts. The 2015 pilot project demonstrated the interest of citizen scientists in sailing communities to use collection kits and follow scientific protocol to conduct open-ocean sampling. They collected more than 300 plankton samples across the world’s ocean. In total, more than 200 million DNA barcodes were sequenced, representing approximately 35,000 genera of planktonic organisms, most of which are not described, and/or, relatively genetically distinct from known species.
More importantly, the samples collected by the Planktonauts were of equivalent quality to the samples obtained by the scientific expedition, Tara Oceans. This unique cooperation between scientists and volunteer Planktonautes allows high-quality scientific data to be gathered regularly and over distances never before possible.
The Plankton Planet team is also dedicated to sharing the wonders of the world of plankton through magical images and putting investigative science in the hands of everyone.