Dynamic Imaging Particle Analysis Blog

NASA uses FlowCam to Study Phytoplankton Populations in the Pacific

Phytoplankton play a large role in reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere: A recent study found that phytoplankton take in about 24 percent of this greenhouse gas. When they die and sink to great depths in the ocean, phytoplankton also move carbon dioxide out of contact with atmosphere.

Among the most pressing questions scientists are investigating is how much of that carbon is being stored in the ocean over the long term. Another question is how rising carbon dioxide levels and associated changes in the ocean environment are affecting phytoplankton communities.

To tackle those questions, on Jan. 26 scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, along with researchers from across the country embarked on 27-day seaborne campaign from Hawaii to Portland, Oregon, to categorize and observe phytoplankton populations and their environment. The team is working aboard the R/V Falkor, a research vessel owned and operated by the non-profit Schmidt Ocean Institute, which grants scientists use of the ship to advance oceanographic research

Fourteen researchers are deploying a range of instruments to track phytoplankton communities as the R/V Falkor traverses the northern Pacific Ocean. They are continuously measuring phytoplankton diversity through either microscopic imagery, pigments analysis or analysis of their genomic material. For the first time, they are testing new NASA-funded technology that will allow them to collect measurements of particle size.  The FlowCam from Fluid Imaging Technologies is one of the research instruments being used for this project.

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, phytoplankton,

Coral Reef Research, Global Climate Change and FlowCam


Researchers are investigating the impact of rising ocean temperatures on sea life. Coral reefs host some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment. They protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms. Read more about how the FlowCam is helping scientists understand why certain species can survive in higher ocean temperatures.

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, coral reef research,, ASLO

Rynearson Lab Uses FlowCam Aboard Icebreaker NB Palmer to Capture Phytoplankton Images


Antarctic Phytoplankton Rivals Charismatic Megafauna

Students and postdocs in the Rynearson lab study organisms as tiny as bacteria and as large as Antarctic krill (oh look krill). 

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Topics: Marine Algae, phytoplankton,, chlorophyll,, Antarctica

Skidaway Institute to Use FlowCam in their New Imaging Lab

Researchers at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography purchased a FlowCam as part of a $226,557 grant from the National Science Foundation to acquire state-of-the-art imaging equipment to investigate microorganisms from the tiniest viruses to larger zooplankton.  The equipment will be housed in UGA Skidaway Institute's new Laboratory for Imaging Microbial Ecology or LIME.

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Topics: Marine Algae, Aquatic Research, Marine Research, Imaging, phytoplankton,

UNE Students Excited to use FlowCam for Research


On a recent training visit to University of New England's Center for Excellence in Marine Sciences, a few of us lucky folks were given a tour of the Center's Ocean Clusters which house the student-run Phytoplankton Lab.  The Ocean Clusters are a diverse group of student-centered applied research areas spanning from phytoplankton to seaweeds to oysters and mussels and recirculating aquaculture and fisheries ecosystem experiments.  UNE just purchased a FlowCam which will be used by many researchers and students to automate and expedite plankton and particulate research. 

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Topics: Algae Research, Marine Algae, Algae Technology, Freshwater Research, phytoplankton,

A Colorful View From Space: FlowCam, Phytoplankton and NASA


NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Ocean Ecology Laboratory Field Group is mapping and monitoring the world’s oceans using satellite-based ocean color imagery.  Several of their scientists turned to the FlowCam to ground truth satellite data and identify the composition of the open ocean phytoplankton communities.


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Topics: Marine Algae, Imaging, phytoplankton,

FlowCam Cyano unveiled at NALMS (North American Lake Management Symposium) - Banff, Canada

The infamous algae bloom that devastated the Florida coast may soon become old, forgotten news. The FlowCam® Cyano automatically detects, images and identifies thousands of individual algal cells in water samples. 

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Topics: Freshwater Algae, Freshwater Research, Cyanobacteria, Harmful Algal Blooms

FlowCam Workshop - Baltimore MD- 11/16/16


Identification and Classification of Aquatic Microorganisms:

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Topics: Marine Algae

McGill University uses a FlowCam for Large Experimental Array of Ponds (LEAP) project

In July one of our technical customer support specialists, Kay Johnson, successfully completed FlowCam training at Gault Nature Reserve, Mont-Saint Hilaire - McGill University in Quebec, Canada. The research team at McGill will use the FlowCam to help with their Large Experimental Array of Ponds (LEAP) project. LEAP has been built at McGill's Gault Nature Reserve and is designed for highly replicated experiments to study how complex aquatic communities respond to environmental stressors. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Sampling

FlowCam for freshwater lake systems studies in Kazakhstan

In May, our technical customer support specialist, Heather Anne Wright, traveled to Astana, the capitol city of Kazakhstan to provide FlowCam training at Nazerbayev University. The interest in using FlowCam technology in their imaging analysis repertoire came about from a unique set of conversations between Harry Nelson, our VP of Aquatic Markets and Dr. Natasha Barteneva. Dr. Barteneva is an adjunct professor at Nazerbayev University, but her primary role is Director, Flow and Imaging Cytometry Resource, Harvard Medical School. Harry and Dr. Barteneva met at Bigelow Laboratory’s Algae Culturing Techniques Course in 2014.

While the region is primarily an arid grassland, our new customers at Nazerbayev University are going to be using the FlowCam in freshwater lake systems. To complete their study, Heather Anne accompanied 2 research scientists to the National Park region to sample several of the lake systems. In addition to completing a survey of the National Park region, the team from Nazerbayev will be characterizing the biodiversity in the disappearing Aral Sea.

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Topics: Dynamic Imaging Particle Analysis, Aquatic Research, Freshwater Research, Sampling