- Autofluorescence imaging system to discriminate and quantify the distribution of benthic cyanobacteria and diatoms
- Limnology and Oceanography, Methods
- Volume | Issue number
- 13 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Observation of benthic photoautotrophs on sediment surfaces shows a single algal layer without distinction between photosynthetic groups. Until now it has not been possible to distinguish between benthic photosynthetic microorganisms, i.e. cyanobacteria and diatoms, at μm to mm scales using a single nondisruptive system. Chlorophyll autofluorescence can be used to distinguish different photoautotrophic groups if the correct excitation light is applied. Using this principle, a nonintrusive technique was developed to study the spatial distribution of benthic cyanobacteria and diatoms. By means of a charge coupled device camera, diatoms and cyanobacteria could be identified by blue light (470 nm) excitation and amber light (600 nm) excitation, respectively. By this approach, diatom or cyanobacterial dominance could be easily distinguished using the blue over amber ratio. We applied this method successfully to (mixed) laboratory cultures as well as natural photosynthetic microbial mats. Cultures of the diatom Nitzschia capitellata and the cyanobacterium Geitlerinema sp. showed close correlation between autofluorescence and cell abundance. This simple and cheap imaging system allows fast observations of the fine-scale (μm-mm) spatial heterogeneities of live benthic microbial photoautotrophs both in culture and natural photosynthetic biofilms structure (e.g., microphytobenthos and photosynthetic microbial mats).
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