What is it about?

Sexual reproduction in the plankton is facing several difficulties. Planktonic organisms are free-floating without any means of active propulsion and often with low abundances. It is therefore difficult for reproductive cells to meet. We develop a numerical model that helps us to understand, under which scenarios sexual reproduction in the plankton is possible and what is its role in comparison with asexual reproduction.

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Why is it important?

The plankton plays a major role in oceanic primary production. Sexual reproduction allows the purging of detrimental genes and the establishment of new, beneficial mutations in the future generations. It is therefore an important parameter that allows the plankton to adapt to past and future environmental change. Understanding the prerequisites and dominance of sexual reproduction is important to estimate the potential of the plankton to survive future climate change undisturbed.


This study is a first major step evaluate the potential of the plankton to adapt to future environmental change. Under scenarios of climate change, a primary element of the marine carbon cycle could be under threat, with potentially grave consequences for Earth's climate system.

Dr Manuel F. G. Weinkauf
Universite de Geneve

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Reproduction dynamics of planktonic microbial eukaryotes in the open ocean, Journal of The Royal Society Interface, February 2022, Royal Society Publishing, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0860.
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