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Environmental Sample Processor

Tracking Harmful Algae

WHOI researcher Bruce Keafer shows a group of science writers in the 2011 Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship program the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP). Scientists are using the instrument to detect and study harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Maine. It works by sampling seawater, filtering out cells, and then breaking them apart to release their DNA. The instrument rapidly analyzes the DNA and telltale chemicals to identify and count cells living in the ocean, and transmits the information in real time to scientists on shore. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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