Planktons serve as the base of the marine food chain.
The organisms near the top of the food chain easily forget small microscopic organisms which contribute to their diverse diets.
Chris Bowler, research director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research and the co-author of the study said, “Planktons are much more than just food for the whales.”
Bowler added, “Although tiny, these organisms are a vital part of the Earth’s life support system, providing half of the oxygen generated each year on Earth by photosynthesis and lying at the base of marine food chains on which all other ocean life depends.”
Jennifer Brum oceanographer from University of Arizona said, “Since the most numerous members of the plankton are bacteria, the majority of viruses in the ocean are thought to infect bacteria.”
Scientist found that these organisms are more complex than they were imagined to be.
International scientist abroad Tara, the French Schooner, embarked on expeditions between 2009 and 2013 collected as many as 35,000 samples of planktons that included virus, fish larvae, bacteria and single cell algae, all from major regions in the ocean.
Scientists have sequenced 40 million genes of plankton making it the largest DNA sequencing project performed on marine science.
Researchers after sequencing all the genes found that most of the them were previously unknown to scientists.
Co-author of the study said, “A good way of thinking about this is that there are roughly 200 million viruses in every mouthful of seawater, and most of those viruses are infecting the roughly 20 million bacteria found in every mouthful of seawater.”
Scientists have sequenced genes of planktons and found them to be genetically diverse, but the diversity of marine mammals was actually lower than they had anticipated.