The last decade has seen a radical reshaping of how scientists view the functioning of the marine food-web in the sunlit upper layer. It has been shown that in nature mixoplankton are often common components of the plankton community, and thus are closer to the norm rather than the exception. In short, the traditional dichotomy between “plant-like” phytoplankton and the “animal-like” protozooplankton used to describe the oceanic food-web is no longer tenable.
The key of the different marine protist plankton functional types was first published in 2016. This has since been revised following the coining of the term mixoplankton and published specifically with respect to Harmful Algal Bloom species.