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Heidi with Imaging FlowCytobot in its pressure housing (R. Olson)

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Rob Olson deploying Imaging FlowCytobot in the test well at the WHOI dock (A. Shalapyonok)

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FCB being deployed at MVCO aboard the R/V Tioga (T Crockford)

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» About Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory
About MVCO

About IFCB

Long term, high-resolution measurements of phytoplankton abundance and cell properties: FlowCytobot and ImagingFlowCytobot

A fundamental understanding of the interaction between physical and biological factors that regulate plankton species composition requires, first of all, detailed and sustained observations.   Only now is it becoming possible to acquire these types of observations, as we develop and deploy instruments that can continuously monitor individual organisms in the ocean.  Since 2003 a submersible flow cytometer developed at WHOI, FlowCytobot, has been measuring and counting the smallest phytoplankton (cells <10 micrometers)at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO), recording optical signals from individual cells as they pass through a focused laser beam.  As part of NSF’s Biocomplexity program, FlowCytobot has produced an unprecedented record of picoplankton dynamics, including the size and pigment characteristics of each cell.  The continuous high-resolution (hourly) measurements provide information on a variety of temporal scales, including interannual and seasonal patterns in abundance of different types of picoplankton, and (for some cell types) daily estimates of cell growth rate (from diel patterns in cell size resulting from photosynthesis and cell division).

FlowCytobot does not sample effectively the larger cells (such as diatoms and dinoflagellates) which often dominate the phytoplankton in coastal waters.  These larger cells often have recognizable shapes, so we have developed (with funding from OLI, COI, and NSF) a second submersible flow cytometer that actually takes pictures of the cells (Imaging FlowCytobot; see photo to right).  Automated image analysis and classification based on Support Vector Machine software allows enumeration of more than 20 categories of plankton. ImagingFlowCytobot has been successfully tested during 2- and 3-month deployments in Woods Hole Harbor, and is currently deployed at 4 m depth at the MVCO Offshore Tower, alongside FlowCytobot.  This combination of instruments provides a powerful new approach for investigating plankton dynamics in coastal waters.

In Development

The dashboard is a project currently under development to make ImagingFlowCytobot images available over the web. The homepage displays the latest real time data from Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory in UTC time. It is possible to navegate to past data using the prompt at the top right of the screen. Drag the mouse over an image to see a close-up on the right of the screen.

The newest IFCB project is currently deployed in Salt Pond in Eastham, MA on Cape Cod.


About IFCB

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Last updated October 19, 2016
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