Name of plankton: Photosynthetic nanoflagellate, Pyramimonas spp.

Where sample was found: Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site

Project: Microbial Observatory

Photo credit: Rachel Parsons, BIOS

What role do these organisms play in the ecosystem: A flagellate is a cell or organism with one or more whip-like organelles called flagella. Flagella are generally used for propulsion. Some flagellates are autotrophs capable of photosynthesis while others are heterotrophs that capture and ingest bacteria prey.

Interesting facts: The flagellum is constructed of numerous subunits of the protein flagellin, while at the base a system of rings anchors the flagellum in the cell wall and plasma membrane. Surrounding these rings are paired motor proteins, which impart a rotary motion to the filament, and switch proteins, which can reverse the direction of rotation.

This photo and information about the microbe were published in a text book: Helmreich, S. (2009). Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas. University of California Press, 1-422.