Name of plankton: Oceanic bacterioplankton

Where sample was found: Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site, oil amendment experiment

Project: Microbial Observatory

Photo credit: Rachel Parsons, BIOS

What role do these organisms play in the ecosystem: Some bacterioplankton can degrade oil and use it as fuel. These bacterioplankton were found in surface waters at BATS and grew when crude oil was added to the experiment. This shows that the surface ocean at BATS has background numbers of bacteria such as ethane-consuming Colwellia, aromatic-eating Cycloclasticus, alkane-eating Oceanospirillales, oil-eating Alcanovorax, methane-loving Methylococcaceae.

Interesting facts: The bacterioplankton in this image are clustering around an oil droplet.