Reducing Warning Time for Harmful Algal Blooms

Cyanobacteria (image via wikimedia.org).

Cyanobacteria (image via wikimedia.org).

     Scientists at the University of Alberta have developed advanced flow cytometry (the measurement of cell characteristics) for earlier detection of toxic algal blooms. 

     "Our ability to rapidly detect the onset of outbreaks of potentially toxic cyanobacteria provides timely information to the public regarding the major lakes throughout the province," said Professor Rolf Vinebrooke (Biological Sciences). 

     A sample of lake water is allowed to flow through a "FlowCAM" unit equipped with imaging software that detects and measures more than 25 different optical properties of each cell. A collage of the images is then created and compared to an electronic database of more than 100 species. 

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