Establishing the baseline for using plankton as biosensor
Plankton is at the bottom of the food chain. Microscopic phytoplankton account for about 50% of all photosynthesis on Earth, corresponding to 50 billion tons of carbon each year, or about 125 billion tonnes of sugar. Plankton is also the food for most species of fish, and therefore it represents the backbone of the aquatic environment. Thus, monitoring plankton is paramount to infer potential dangerous changes to the ecosystem. In this work we use a collection of plankton species extracted from a large dataset of images from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), to establish a basic set of morphological features for supporting the use of plankton as a biosensor. Using a perturbation detection approach, we show that it is possible to detect deviation from the average space of features for each species of plankton microorganisms, that we propose could be related to environmental threat or perturbations. Such an approach, can open the way for the development of an automatic Artificial Intelligence (AI) based system for using plankton as biosensor.