The study of microbes (viruses, bacteria and protists) in the marine plankton has been revolutionized through the integration of information from cytology, molecular biology, biogeography, ecology, eco-physiology, and biochemistry, and the use of novel DNA-based detection and identification techniques. As a result, considerable cryptic and hidden diversity has been uncovered rendering the network of species interactions in the plankton far more complex than believed previously. Multi-disciplinary research is required to study this biodiversity but single institutes rarely have all the scientific expertise and technical infrastructure needed thereto. Last but not least, research on plankton and on protists is not heavily present within the MarBEF network. This responsive mode project strives to fill that gap.

The objective of this project is to improve our understanding of marine plankton and how this diversity varies across temporal and spatial scales. It will achieve this objective through spreading of expertise and integration of research efforts on a European level by means of:

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  • short sabbaticals
  • provision of specialist training
  • creation of interdisciplinary links in marine biodiversity science
  • calibration of instruments
  • exchange of information, samples and strains

MARPLAN: European integration of marine microplankton research is a Responsive Mode Project undertaken within the MarBEF EU Network of Excellence, funded under the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Union
Principal investigator: Wiebe H.C.F. Kooistra