Reimaging 100 Years of Marine Ecology - the Mixoplankton Paradigm

Event Type: Seminar

Date: 14 September 2021, 13:00 to 15:00

About the Event

The way marine systems have historically been thought to function closely parallels that of land-based systems, where plants produce food and animals consume it. Thus, in marine ecology, the traditional view is that single-celled phytoplankton produce food which are consumed by single-celled zooplankton and these are in turn consumed by larger zooplankton through to higher trophic levels. This plant/animal type of dichotomy has been the bedrock of marine science, operationally separating organisms and research effort into phototrophic or phagotrophic compartments. However, we now know that the dichotomy represents at best a gross simplification. Most protist plankton at the base of the oceanic food-web can actually photosynthesise (make food “like plants”) and ingest food (eat “like animals”) thus contributing to both primary and secondary production simultaneously in the same cell. While aquatic scientists have known about the existence of such plankton for centuries, these organisms have hitherto been considered to be nature’s curios belonging to a special niche rather than as major players in the aquatic ecosystems. Changes to our understanding over the last decade have culminated in the recent proposal of the term “mixoplankton” – consistent with the functional type classification of protist plankton based on field, laboratory and modelling studies. This seminar will focus on my journey of discovery which led me to the mixoplankton paradigm.

Watch Now

The recorded version of this live webinar is now available for viewing.

About the Speaker

Aditee Mitra

Aditee Mitra is a botanist by first degree, an ecologist by virtue of her MSc degree, and a systems dynamics modeller of plankton ecophysiology via her PhD and research activities. Aditee's background allows her to interface with a wide science base both for research and teaching.

She has a keen interest in working at the interface of science, governance, and the public. Thus, she worked as the Managing Editor for the Journal of Plankton Research (Oxford University Press), as Climate Change Research Consultant on a WLGA funded project, as Biodiversity Officer for Bridgend County Borough Council, as a British Science Association Media Fellow with BBC Countryfile.

More recently, in research, Aditee has been a key driver of the new mixoplankton-centric paradigm in marine ecology championing the cause of nature’s “Perfect Beasts”. She authored a Scientific American article on the Perfect Beast (March 2018). This was selected for the Scientific American Revolutions in Science Special Issue (July 2018) as one of the “13 discoveries that could change everything”. This article has also been translated into French and German.

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