Rob Olson, Ph.D.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Phytoplankton Ecology at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.
Phytoplankton are the base of the marine food chain and produce roughly half of the oxygen on Earth, but we still have only a general idea of how different species are regulated, largely because it is so difficult and time-consuming to sample and examine them. To address this situation, we are developing automated submersible instruments such as Imaging FlowCytobot, which is now providing samples of coastal nano- and micro-phytoplankton at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory, analyzing 5 ml samples every 20 minutes for months at a time. Its data include individual cell measurements of chlorophyll and light scattering and high-resolution images of each cell, which allow us to classify cells to genus or even species in some cases. A parallel research project developed an automated image classifier for the millions of images produced. Details of the instrument design, results from the first year’s deployment, and ongoing developments will be discussed.