Marine phytoplankton are the major, sustaining components of ecosystem processes and are responsible for biogeochemical reactions that drive our climate changes. Despite this, many phytoplanktoners are poorly described with little known of broad spatial and temporal scale trends in their abundance and distribution. With new molecular and analytical techniques we can advance our knowledge of phytoplankton biodiversity at the species level to understand how phytoplankton biodiversity supports ecosystem structure, dynamics and resilience. We can then interpret environmental, ecological and evolutionary processes controlling and structuring marine phytoplankton biodiversity. Objectives of the proposed conference are:
(1) to provide training in the state of the art developments in flow cytometric analysis of phytoplankton populations,
(2) to introduce the development of artificial neural networks to analyse the complex multivariate nature of flow cytometric data to provide an automatic identification system for marine phytoplankton and
(3) to demonstrate the use of hierarchical ribosomal rRNA probes to identify and quantify phytoplankton biodiversity.
With these methods to hand, we can augment our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics in especially the pico- and nano fractions of the plankton that have few morphological markers for identification and from which, 3 new algal classes have been documented in the last 10 years. Within 2 EU projects, EU AIMS and EU PICODIV, workshops were planned as a means of disseminating the information to the scientific community. This EU conference is planned to fulfil this obligation. The goals of the EU AIMS Project are to provide an automated identification system for the identification of marine phytoplankton using flow cytometric as coupled to artificial neural networks (ANNs). The goal of the PICODIV project is to provide an estimate of the biodiversity of the pico-fraction of the marine phytoplankton through the use of molecular techniques, such as clone libraries and probes. Our goal in this conference is to merge the objectives of the 2 EU projects into one workshop to provide tools for researchers on marine phytoplankton to enable them to provide better, faster and more accurate estimates of marine biodiversity in the phytoplankton community using three tools at the forefront of oceanographic research.