Get to know phytoplankton, the largest producer of oxygen on Earth

TIME.CO, Jakarta – Many people believe that green plants play an important role in producing the oxygen necessary for living things to breathe. However, in reality, the main producers of oxygen on earth are not plants, but microorganisms that exist in the so-called marine ecosystem phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton, also known as microalgae, is similar to land plants because it contains chlorophyll. Phytoplankton also needs sunlight and inorganic nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates and sulfur to survive and thrive. Most phytoplankton live on the sea surface to obtain nutrients from sunlight.

Reporting from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in a balanced ecosystem, phytoplankton is a food source for various marine creatures, including shrimp, snails and jellyfish. However, when there is an abundance of nutrients, phytoplankton can overgrow and form toxic algae that can potentially damage the ecosystem.

The largest producer of oxygen

The presence of phytoplankton is very important in the food chain of the marine ecosystem. Quoted from The Newport Bay Conservancy (NBC), scientists have shown that approximately 50-80% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere is produced by phytoplankton during photosynthesis. Meanwhile, trees or plants only produce about 20% of the total oxygen. In other words, phytoplankton are greater oxygen producers than green forests.


A type of phytoplankton, Prochlorococcus, capable of releasing enormous quantities of oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere every day. According to research by National Geographic explorer Sylvia A. Earle, Prochlorococcus provides enough oxygen for one in five human breaths.

I need to know oxygen Dissolved in seawater it comes from two sources, namely the atmosphere and the phytoplankton living in the water. The dissolved oxygen content in salt water is relatively lower than in fresh water. The oxygen produced by phytoplankton can be considered a byproduct of their photosynthesis process, which is then released into the atmosphere. This oxygen then dissolves into the sea surface and plays an important role in maintaining life in the sea.

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