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Cyanobacterial Detection Using in vivo Fluorescence Probes: Managing Interferences for Improved Decision-Making (PDF)

  • Author(s): Zamyadi, Arash; McQuaid, Natasha; Dorner, Sarah; Bird, David F.; Burch, Mike; Baker, Peter; Hobson, Peter; Prevost, Michele
  • Publications: Journal - American Water Works Association
  • Issue Date: August 2012
  • Volume / Number: 104, Number 8
  • Page(s): E466-E479
  • DOI:
  • Product Number: JAW_0076278
Full Text: pdf

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The applications of in vivo probes that can detect the fluorescence of cyanobacterial phycocyanin are emerging and widely used for cyanobacterial detection in source waters. The objectives of this project were to study the sources of interferences involved with the readings of five probes (three commercially available probes and two prototype probes) using laboratory cultures and field samples. To compare the direct readings of different probes, the probe readings were presented in the form of a biovolume equivalent of cyanobacteria. Inorganic turbidity and the presence of algal biomass interfered with probe readings. A correction factor was developed for the cyanobacteria probes using simultaneous chlorophyll a measurements. The field data demonstrate that the potential underestimation of cyanobacterial biomass that corresponds to alert levels is a major issue with the application of in vivo probes. These alert levels are used to trigger monitoring and management actions. This study shows that the correlation between a probe's reading and cell count is almost meaningless, and that the correlation to biovolume is a relevant option for management purposes. Results show that probe users should be fully aware of the sources of interferences when applying and interpreting the results. In addition, the authors offer a novel procedure that corrects for chlorophyll a interference.

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