Images above demonstrate how we utilize fluorescence to locate algae in a high particulate sample. Both images taken at 400x. Left image is phase contrast, right image is green light excitation.
PhycoTech specializes in the analysis of lake, reservoir, stream, well, and marine samples for suspended and attached algae, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates and bacteria. We also provide algal analysis for fish and macroinvertebrate guts, as well as diatom and akinete composition in sediment cores. We have been providing high quality aquatic sample analysis for over 27 years with Dr. St. Amand having over 32 years experience in the field. Our customers vary from governmental agencies, private industry and universities, to lake owners associations and individuals concerned about local water quality. PhycoTech has processed over 41,500 biological samples to date.
We lead the industry by providing our customers with a wide variety of associated services such as specialized bioassays, photo documentation, data analysis, report generation, field study design, nutrient analysis and chlorophyll a analysis, all based on the most current technology. PhycoTech is the only commercial lab in North America to utilize a unique proprietary permanent mounting technique. These mounts allow you to get further data at a later date, as well as maintain a permanent archive of the sample that is easily stored, maintains fluorescence, and does not degrade with time. Permanent algal mounts allow archiving of diatoms and soft algae. Zooplankton mounts are stained and then permanently mounted for easier identification.
Legend: Nomarski and Fluorescent micrograph at 1000x showing single celled blue-green picoplankton.
Protocols and Microscopy Equipment
The HPMA method for producing algal sample slides provides an optically clear background while permanently infiltrating and preserving the sample for archival purposes (See Technical Approach for general mounting method, QA/QC and counting protocol). We have adapted this method, through proprietary changes, to algae, zooplankton and bacteria. Mounting distortion is minimal and the method provides the advantage of being able to go 100x to 1000x on the same algal or bacterial specimen. Zooplankton can be viewed up to 200x. Wet sample is always maintained in case clarification of identification is necessary. We strongly encourage our customers to use glutaraldehyde (final concentration of 0.25-0.50%) for preservation of algal samples. It offers minimal distortion and allows the use of epifluorescence on the sample while counting, which can dramatically improve the final results. Zooplankton and macroinvertebrate samples should be preserved in 70% ethanol.
PhycoTech, Inc. has assembled and maintains a comprehensive library of keys and taxonomic references to assist in providing the highest quality and technically accurate product. In addition to these books, the PhycoTech reference library includes hundreds of papers from the primary journals.
Microscopes used to process all samples include Olympus BHT and BMX, research-grade compound microscopes equipped with Nomarski optics (100x, 200x, 400x, and 1000x), Phase Optics (400x, 1000x), epifluorescence, and a trinocular head for photography. We've just added a new digital camera as well, allowing us to provide real-time image documentation. We also have a dissecting microscope available for macroinvertebrates and large zooplankton. Our compound microscopes are equipped with green, blue and UV excitation cubes, allowing us to use not only algal autofluorescence, but also stains that include Acridine Orange, Acriflavin, DAPI and Calclafluor White. Also available is Scanning Electron Microscopy through the Notre Dame Electron Microscopy Laboratory.