FlowCam - Flow Imaging Microscopy Blog

Research vessel uses imaging analyzer for phytoplankton identification

Marine phytoplankton classification FlowCam imagesWe are excited to learn that a 66-day research expedition from Punta Arenas, Chile to Hobart, Tasmania has a particle imaging analyzer on board their ship. The research team, led by Dr. Bethany Jenkins, is focused on the single-celled algae that live in the surface ocean, and are using the instrument for phytoplankton characterization.

Crew member Hannah Joy-Warren is a first year PhD student at Stanford University and she's using an imaging particle analyzer for phytoplankton identification. She collects samples at designated locations, filters the sample to remove large particles, and then runs the filtered samples through a FlowCAM.  The system takes a digital image of each marine pytoplankton, and other particles, within the sample and saves it for analysis.

The images are collected and displayed by the analyzer's specialized software, VisualSpreadsheet, in real-time.  She can review the images, and filter and sort her data set into different phytoplankton species - including diatoms and Phaeocystis.  Results from the FlowCAM will help determine what kind of phytoplankton is dominating the ocean community. The entire expedition team will rely on this information to guide their experiments and sampling plans.

As Hannah describes it “the FlowCAM is a combination of a camera and microscope. There is a tiny cell that is held by a stage between the microscope and camera and connected by tubing at each ends. As sample flows through, the camera takes a picture that is magnified by the microscope 100-200 times.” 

You can follow the expedition and learn about the great data they are collecting on their blog, Phantastic Voyage.

Phytoplankton imaged on FlowCAM. Images and slide courtesy Hannah Joy-Warren


See more digital algae images from the FlowCAM!

Visit the FlowCam marine research application page for more information and to view our marine organism image gallery! 

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Topics: Marine Research, User Spotlight, Aquatic Research