Real-time monitoring of phytoplankton in the Belgian Part of the North Sea

Monitoring phytoplankton in the Belgian part of the North Sea on a near-continuous basis can yield valuable information on the ecological status of these waters. The use of a flow cytometer can improve this understanding and increase the efficiency of analyses and reporting. Flow cytometry is a commonly used technique among biologists to study temporal and spatial changes of phytoplankton species composition and abundance. It creates fingerprints of particles (phytoplankton cells) based on their ability to scatter or re-emit specific wavelengths of light. This light is detected by sensors and by analyzing fluctuations in brightness it is then possible to derive information about the physical and chemical structure of each individual particle.

In the framework of LifeWatch, VLIZ purchased a CytoSub flow cytometer (CytoBuoy). It is installed on board in the laboratory space of the RV Simon Stevin and is connected to its continuous water flow system. The instrument is designed to analyze the naturally occurring size range from small (e.g. picoplankton) to large (e.g. colonial) plankton species (1 to 800 µm). In addition to its ability to gather flow cytometric data, the instrument can also take pictures of individual particles. This can allow for easier identification of particle clusters. The embedded computer of the CytoSub is connected to the network of the RV Simon Stevin, which allows off site operating the instrument via a remote desktop connection.

 

 
Developed by: 

The real-time data processing software Easyclus LIVE© was developed by Thomas Rutten ProjectsThe online interface showing the real-time measurements of the CytoSub aboard the RV Simon Stevin was developed by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).

Technology or platform: 

The CytoSub flow cytometer is controlled and operated by CytoUSB (CytoBuoy). The automatic post-processing of the data is done with Easyclus LIVE© (developed by Thomas Rutten Projects) in a Matlab environment.