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[fahy-tuh-plangk-tuh n] /ˌfaɪ təˈplæŋk tən/
the aggregate of plants and plantlike organisms in plankton.
Compare zooplankton.
Origin of phytoplankton
1895-1900; phyto- + plankton Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for phytoplankton
  • Depth and life, specifically phytoplankton, both influence the ocean's color.
  • phytoplankton, which sits at the base of the food web, has also declined in the last century.
  • In the water, nitrogen serves as a major nutrient for microscopic organisms called phytoplankton.
  • In the open ocean, surface nutrients are limited and phytoplankton are scarce.
  • But too much phytoplankton can deplete the water's oxygen supply.
  • The invertebrates also eat microscopic plants called phytoplankton.
  • Dissolved in the ocean, it forms carbonic acid which dissolved the calcium shells of oxygen producing phytoplankton.
  • They are having a negative impact on bacteria and phytoplankton.
  • phytoplankton is the official name for the microscopic floating plants that live in the sunlit layer of the ocean.
  • And it may be shut down because of microscopic organisms called phytoplankton.
British Dictionary definitions for phytoplankton


the photosynthesizing organisms in plankton, mainly unicellular algae and cyanobacteria Compare zooplankton
Derived Forms
phytoplanktonic (ˌfaɪtəplæŋkˈtɒnɪk) adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for phytoplankton

1897, from phyto- + plankton.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phytoplankton in Science
Plankton consisting of free-floating algae, protists, and cyanobacteria. Phytoplankton form the beginning of the food chain for aquatic animals and fix large amounts of carbon, which would otherwise be released as carbon dioxide.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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