WHOI Biologist Scott Gallager leads a team developing a new tool to keep drinking water safe, by watching how single-celled organisms (protozoans) react to toxins in the water. Toxins typically disrupt the operation of protozoans’ swimming structures (cilia), altering their speed and direction. The instrument, called the Swimming Behavior Spectrometer (SBS), mixes a continuous stream of drinking water with cultured protozoans while a video computer system analyzes their swimming behavior and the water’s chemical and physical characteristics. The new system will securely transmit data over the Internet, allowing continuous, remote water quality monitoring—in real time. Working with Gallager are WHOI and independent researchers and engineers Phil Alatalo, Norman Vine, and Steve Lerner.
(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)