Flow Imaging Microscopy Blog

A Blueprint to Monitor Toxin-Producing Cyanobacteria With the FlowCam

Ensure Safe Drinking Water

Climate conditions are conducive to both harmful algae blooms (HABs) as well as taste and odor events in drinking water with increasing frequency and intensity. As a result, EPA regulations are moving toward requiring cyanobacteria monitoring. Proactive drinking water agencies are seeking a streamlined approach to monitor cyanobacteria and nuisance algae. Unfortunately, there is no single method that answers all the fundamental questions needed to make treatment decisions and ensure a safe water supply:

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Topics: Municipal Water (Drinking/Wastewater), Harmful Algal Blooms, Freshwater Research, News and Events

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

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

Hands-on FlowCam Workshop in Germany October 1st 2018

We are excited to announce that we will be co-hosting a FlowCam workshop with our European partners Anasysta.  This exclusive introductory workshop on the FlowCam Cyano and the FlowCam 8000 series will be hosted at the University of Konstanz and is scheduled for October 1st, 2018 from 9am - 4pm.

The FlowCam Cyano utilizes a red laser to differentiate cyanobacteria from other algae and detritus in aquatic samples. After capturing digital images of the algae, the FlowCam’s software, VisualSpreadsheet, can be used to further characterize the specific types of all algae found in the sample.

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

Semi-automated method for detecting and counting cells of cyanobacterial colonies and filaments


Microcystis & AnabaenaAt the 2nd Interdisciplinary Freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms (IFHAB) Workshop in Toronto, Ontario (April 16-18, 2018) Sales Representative Frances Buerkens presented a session on how the FlowCam was used by scientists from the California Department of Water Resources to estimate cell abundance of colonial Microcystis.


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

The Oyster's Effect on Silica Cycling and Diatom Abundance in Temperate Estuaries

Nicholas Ray, Boston University PhD Candidate, collecting samples in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, for his study on the oyster's effect on silica cycling and estuarine health. (Credit: Nicholas Ray)

Nicholas Ray, PhD candidate at Boston University, was the 2016 recipient of the Fluid Imaging Technologies student research grant program.  Applicants submit proposals for how they intend to use the FlowCam within the scope of their research, and the winner is awarded the use of a FlowCam for a 4-month period. Fluid Imaging Technologies also provided Ray with a paid registration to the 2017 Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) Conference where he gave an oral presentation on his research. 

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

Monitoring for Taste & Odor Algae at Newport News Waterworks

I recently had the opportunity to speak with FlowCam users at Newport News Waterworks in the City of Newport News, Virginia.  Serving over 400,000 people the waterworks owns and operates 5 reservoirs and more than 12,000 acres of watershed property.

Sherry Williams is the Water Quality Control Supervisor, and Anna-Maria Miller is the Laboratory Analyst who uses the FlowCam regularly.  They originally bought their FlowCam in 2011 to help monitor for taste and odor algae, as well as filter clogging algae.  Recently they took advantage of a trade-in/upgrade option and are soon getting a new FlowCam Cyano to monitor for harmful cyanobacteria. 


Anabaenopsis, one type of cyanobacteria responsible for the blooms in Newport News resevoirs. PC: Newport News Waterworks

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

Monitoring for HABs and Invasive Species with the FlowCam at Big Bear Municipal Water District.

Big Bear Municipal Water District (BBMWD) is a small water utility located in Big Bear California. The MWD is responsible for the overall management of Big Bear Lake, one of Southern California’s premier recreational lakes. BBMWD’s recent purchase of a FlowCam allows them to quickly monitor for harmful algal blooms (HABs) and invasive quagga and zebra mussels.

Maintaining healthy algae populations and preventing HABs are a priority for BBMWD. Foul odors, toxin releases, and wildlife deaths drive visitors away, as well as restrict the use of the lake.  

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Topics: Harmful Algal Blooms, Invasive Species, Aquatic Research, Freshwater Research