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

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

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

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

Beyond just pigment detection.... How FlowCam aided Ultrasonic Buoy HAB mitigation

The FlowCam has shown itself to be a complementary monitoring tool to aid in harmful algal bloom (HAB) mitigation and prevention. 

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Topics: Aquatic Research, Harmful Algal Blooms