Phytoplankton (algae) cells are floating, suspended, microscopic small and vegetable organisms. The concentration and type of species determine the ecological water quality to an important extent. Water agencies are therefore interested how the growth of different types of phytoplankton is developing in natural waters.
Phytoplankton (the so called autotrophic cells) enables the synthesis of organic substances from carbon dioxide and anorganic substances dissolved in water by using the photosynthesic process. They form the primary basis in the food chain in fresh as well as in marine waters. Phytoplankton represents an important source for all kinds of animals such as zooplankton and water filtering organisms. These higher organisms represents the source for higher organisms such as fish and seal.
Some algae cause, if they are at very high concentration (algae blooms) and some already at lower concentration, harmful blooms, characterized e.g. by foaming layers on the water or beach, by floating layers of algae on the surface of water, by the production of toxic substances or by the bad smell. Blue algae or cyanobacteria are a well known example of harmful blooming species, which can grow fast during good weather and which suddenly cause water quality problems.
A new monitoring development is the full automatic high performance phytoplankton analysis by the integration of the sampling, the cytometric water analysis, the data analysis and interpretation and the real time reportage of facts and figures to a website. This innovative combination of tools enables the high frequency of phytoplankon analysis and gives new perspectives in phytoplankton dynamics and understanding. It is expected that this improvement in automatic monitoring increases the quality of data and water quality assessment and will lead to a more efficient water management. This is made possible by the combination of flowcytometry (CytoBuoy bv) and realtime data processing (Thomas Rutten Projects).