Flow Imaging Microscopy Blog

Are Blue Mussels the New Microplastic Fiber Sink? A study by Bigelow Lab

December 2018 — Microplastics are an ubiquitous concern for the world's oceans. Increasing demand for consumer plastics has resulted in an estimated 4.8 to 15.11 million metric tons of plastics entering the oceans every year1,2. These macroplastics degrade into microplastics, or plastic fragments <5 mm in diameter, which can range in morphology from rigid pieces to amorphous fibers. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, User Spotlight

New Method for Meiobenthos Analysis Using FlowCam

Researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, and Am-Lab Inc. developed a methodology to use the FlowCam® for analysis of sediment-inhabiting meiobenthos.  

Meiobenthos are small, benthic invertebrates often used as indicators of anthropogenic influence and other natural disturbances. They play a primary role in sediment nutrient cycling and stability in benthic ecosystems. 

Meiobenthos imaged by the FlowCam. Organic matter was stained with Rose Bengal to easily differentiate meiobenthos from inorganic particulates, such as sediment. Imaged organisms are labeled as follows: a) Nematoda; b) Copepoda; c) Nauplius larvae; d) Kinorhyncha; e) Foraminifera. Credit: Kitahashi et al. (2018). 

Optical microscopy, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming, is often the primary technology utilized for analysis of meiobenthos. In this study, Kitahashi et al. developed a method to use the FlowCam and VisualSpreadsheet® for analysis of these small, benthic invertebrates.

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Topics: Freshwater Research, Marine Research, User Spotlight, Aquatic Research

Climate Change and the Gulf of Maine as Discussed by President of Bigelow Lab

November 6, 2018, Brunswick, Maine—

At the close of Election Day, Dr. Deborah Bronk presented on the effects of climate change on the Gulf of Maine at Frontier Cafe and Restaurant in Brunswick, Maine.

Dr. Bronk, a PhD from the University of Maryland, most recently held tenure as a Professor at the College of William and Mary where she conducted research on how phytoplankton and other aquatic microbes process nitrogen. In February 2018, she became the President and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, News and Events, Harmful Algal Blooms

New Method for Cell Counting Microcystis Colonies Using Image Processing Method

October 2018 — Environmental Engineering Research published a paper presenting a new method for cell counting Microcystis colonies using the FlowCam.  Researchers from Korea Water Resources Corporation, University of Central Florida, and Kyungbook National University developed a three-dimensional image processing method using an algorithm to count colonial Microcystis cells.    

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Topics: Aquatic Research, User Spotlight, Harmful Algal Blooms, Freshwater Research, FlowCam Technology

Study by University of Alberta finds the FlowCam is a reliable and faster alternative to manual microscopy for cyanobacterial bloom monitoring

Scientists at the University of Alberta, Alberta Health, and University of Calgary compared the efficacy of using the FlowCam to traditional light microscopy for rapid cyanobacteria quantification and high resolution taxonomic data. Traditional light microscopy, while it provides the highest level of detail and is the ideal method for taxonomic identification, is time-consuming. The rate of quantifying and reporting cyanobacterial abundance must match the rate of cyanobacterial production in order to assess the present risk to human and ecological health. 

Anabaena, a common culprit of cyanobacterial blooms, as imaged by the FlowCam at 10X. 

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Topics: Harmful Algal Blooms, Aquatic Research, Municipal Water (Drinking/Wastewater), Freshwater Research, User Spotlight

$30 Million in New Grant Funding Awarded to Study Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs)

Devastating Red Tide Impacts Coastal Communities of Western Florida

Karenia brevis bloom as imaged by FlowCam. Sample was collected off Sanibel Island in August 2018 by Eric Milbrandt, Director of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and sent to Fluid Imaging Technologies for analysis. 

This past summer a red tide spread along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline killing millions of fish and threatening human health (not to mention impacting regional tourism).  Harmful algae blooms (HABs) like this occur with regularity nationwide and cost an estimated $50 million each year.

Florida is a Case Study for the Need to Improve HAB Funding

Beyond the problems along the Gulf Coast, southeastern Florida is experiencing a blue-green, cyanobacteria bloom in the St. Lucie River. Recent testing shows that water samples are 10 times too toxic to even touch due to high levels of microcystin, a toxin that can make people and animals sick. Direct contact with the algae can cause a rash.  When ingested, the toxin can cause nausea, vomiting, and in some sever cases, acute liver failure.

To study the effects of HABs and other ocean and Great Lakes pathogens, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the National Institutes of Health, have awarded new grants totaling $30 million. The grants fund research on ecosystems in the oceans and in the Great Lakes Basin. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Harmful Algal Blooms, News and Events

Workshop for Cyanobacteria, Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Analysis in Evian France

IAGLR and the European Large Lakes Symposium (ELLS) are co-sponsoring an international conference entitled “Big Lakes, Small World” during the week of September 23-28, 2018 at Lake Geneva in Evian, France. The meeting will be the first IAGLR meeting held outside North America, and in conjunction with the 5th European Large Lakes Symposium.

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Topics: Harmful Algal Blooms, Freshwater Research, Aquatic Research

FlowCam Aboard Arctic Ocean Vessel to Assist in Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Analysis during Northwest Passage

One Ocean Expeditions' vessel Akademik loffe will be setting sail on August 23rd for 22 days with a team of scientists, students and a film crew to study the Arctic Ocean. First ever live-broadcasts are planned for select museums, classrooms and citizen scientists worldwide.  

The Akademik loffe will set sail late August 2018 to conduct climate change studies in the Canadian Arctic. A FlowCam will be aboard and used for plankton monitoring. Credit: One Ocean Expeditions. 

Aboard the Akademik Ioffe, the team will collect water, ice, and air samples to advance the understanding of and document the effect climate change is having on the environment and biodiversity in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The expedition's chief scientist, Dr. Brice Loose of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, is coordinating and leading the research into the exchange of greenhouse gases between the water and atmosphere, and changes in distribution and abundance of two vulnerable levels of the Arctic food web – plankton and seabirds.  

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Topics: Aquatic Research, News and Events, Marine Research

Microplastics in Our Oceans: How Can We Study These Microscopic Pollutants?

Microplastics are everywhere. Microplastics result from the breakdown of larger plastic waste (plastic bottles, bags, straws, glitter, fishing nets, toothbrushes, etc.) as well as synthetic fabrics (spandex, nylon, polyester, etc.). Research has discovered these micropollutants in our oceans, our shellfish, our bottled water. However, these tiny plastic particles can be challenging to study and remain vastly uncharacterized.

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Marine Research, FlowCam Technology

Fluorescent Photopigments Captured with Trigger Mode at the University of Algarve

The FlowCam's "trigger-mode" enables the user to capture individual images of excited, fluorescing particles every time one passes the camera. Cyanobacteria and Cryptophyta contain the photopigments chlorophyll and phycobiliproteins.  These photopigments can be excited using a FlowCam equipped with a 532 nm laser. When the FlowCam is set to "trigger-mode", each fluorescing particle that passes the camera view "triggers" the FlowCam to capture its image.

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Topics: Aquatic Research, FlowCam Technology, User Spotlight