Semi-Automated IFCB Analysis


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Photo Credit: McLane Research Labs

Samples are run through an Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB, McLane Research Labs) which captures images of particles as they pass through a flow-cell. Algal images are then identified using an automated classifier. Images and image counts are used to provide estimates of algal concentration and biovolume. Live algal samples provide the best results, but we will also accept samples preserved in glutaraldehyde. IFCB data is semi-quantitative; this method has the most utility comparing dominant taxa groups, functional classes, and thresholds of critical water quality indicators.


Important information

  • Live samples are tallied more accurately than preserved samples. See below for details on how to send live samples for IFCB.
  • Live samples received more than 24 hours after sampling will provide unreliable results.
  • Due to differences in counting methods, IFCB data cannot be directly compared to a manual count.
  • The IFCB can trigger on particulates between 2-250 um, but the classifier most reliably identifies algal units above 10um.

How to Ship Live Samples for IFCB Analysis

  1. Prior to sampling, contact us for scheduling. Call (269) 983-3654 or email
  2. Fill out an ifcb analysis request form.
  3. Make sure sample bottles are clearly labelled with sample information using waterproof marker or labels.
  4. Keep samples chilled, but NOT frozen. Package samples in a cooler or box lined with Styrofoam. Include cold-packs with your samples to keep them cold during shipping.
  5. Send samples with overnight shipping and specify morning delivery. If we do not receive samples in the morning, processing will be delayed and resulting data may not be representative of what was in the sample bottle at the time of sampling.