Educational Resources-Phytoplankton

This section is designed to aid the teachers in fulfilling the following AHSGE Standards and Objectives requirements.

  • Standard: I-1
  • Standard: II-1
  • Standard: III-3
  • Standard: VI-1

Phytoplankton Facts

  • Phytoplankton is made up of unicellular plants; diatoms and dinoflagellates
  • They are important producers
  • They form the base of the food chain
  • Phytoplankton changes inorganic nutrients into oxygen by way of photosynthesis
  • “It is estimated that 75-85 percent of the oxygen on earth are produced by phytoplankton.”(Coulombe, 1992)

phyton plankton illustration

  • Single celled yellow-green algae that produce much of the world’s oxygen
  • Diatoms contain a silica shell, which is a glass like substance. The shell does not act as a tight container but overlaps. An easy way to remember this is that a diatom shells fits like a lid fits on a box
  • “Diatoms are well adapted to floating and probably the single most important food source in the ocean” (Coulombe, 1992)



  • These organisms can photosynthesis like plant plankton and swim like simple animals. Dinoflagellates propel themselves through the ocean by using two flagella
  • Red Tide” is caused by the Dinoflagellates “Gonyaulax” and “Gymnodinium” . These phytoplankton are responsible for releasing toxins into the water and causing major fish kills, shellfish poisoning and respiratory disorders in humans

Proceed to Zooplankton

Introduction | Phytoplankton | Zooplankton | Resources