Scientia Marina, Vol 64, No 2 (2000)

Flow cytometry as a tool for the study of phytoplankton

G. B.J. Dubelaar
Dubelaar Research Instruments Engineering, Netherlands

R. R. Jonker
AquaSense B.V., Netherlands


An overview is presented on flow cytometry as a tool for counting, analysis and identification of phytoplankton species and groups. The paper covers basics on the analysis technique and instrumentation such as the measuring principle, the type of instrument, limitations and pitfalls with phytoplankton samples and sample handling and preprocessing. Possibilities of the measured entities are discussed, roughly divided in light scatter and related parameters, the endogenous fluorescence and exogenous fluorescence, followed by a discussion on the actual applications such as phytoplankton abundance analysis, ecology and physiology research and monitoring of particle size and biomass. In addition to a limited literature review, we tried to assess how flow cytometry is used in routine laboratory practice and monitoring operations. Therefore, a questionnaire was sent out via email to 47 scientists at 43 institutes known to us as involved in flow cytometric analysis of phytoplankton. In total, 19 scientists responded. Specific survey results are included in italic print whereas some more general answers were integrated in the overview.


flow cytometry; phytoplankton; marine; fresh water; monitoring; counting; identification; fluorescence; particle analysis

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Copyright (c) 2000 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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