"The most important thing is that everyone with the right equipment can do it," Saudo-Wilhelmy said.
Next, Saudo-Wilhelmy said he plans to investigate what causes varying amounts of B-vitamins in different regions of the ocean, and try to determine exactly how that affects phytoplankton blooms. This includes a comprehensive set of experiments in the North Pacific Ocean as part of C-MORE's ongoing Hawaii Ocean Experiment.
Periodically, phytoplankton experience population explosions known as "blooms." In the case of certain phytoplankton that produce toxins, these blooms become toxic, such as the so-called "red" tides. Temperature, sunlight and nutrients in the water all appear to influence these blooms, but the exact causes have yet to be pinned down. One hypothesis is that vitamins B7 and B12 may act as triggers.
"It's crazy that after 100 years of study, we still don't fully understand what controls different phytoplankton blooms in the ocean," Saudo-Wilhelmy said.
|Contact: Robert Perkins|
University of Southern California