Dynamic Imaging Particle Technology for Quantitative Morphological Analysis and Cell Counting
Fung Shek, Coral J.
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Despite the ever-changing trends in energy usage today, there is one fact that is clear: our current fuels are unsustainable, both environmentally and economically. Algae have the potential to become a sustainable fuel source due to its photosynthetic capabilities and its versatility in land and water usage. Unlike many of the alternative fuel sources, algal technology lacks proper implementation due to the large gap between research and large-scale production. Because of this, researchers are responsible for advancing the techniques and technologies used to culture and analyze algal cultivations. If we look at algal technology history, we can see that little has changed since the early attempts at growing microalgae. Many of the current culturing and analytical techniques for microalgae are derived from techniques that have been developed for other microbial and plant cultures. As algal technology evolves, however, researchers must look to new ways of studying microalgae due to its own unique aspects. For example, little has been done in morphological analysis in algae. This has the potential to be a powerful tool to better enhance our understanding of how algal cells respond to varying growth conditions. We used dynamic particle imaging analysis through the FlowCam® to generate quantitative morphological data that can be used to assess how one strain of algae responds to different growth conditions, such as light presence or varying carbon sources. We also propose using the integrated VisualSpreadsheet® software to compare both size and shape of algal cells in the aforementioned growth conditions. We also used dynamic particle imaging analysis as a counting tool for microbial cells and compared them to traditional techniques, such as a hemocytometer or optical density readings. This is not to show which technique is more accurate, but rather to offer dynamic imaging particle analysis as an alternative technique for cell counting. Unlike the traditional techniques, the FlowCam® is more efficient and less tedious, especially when considering multispecies cultures. We have compared these techniques for monocultures and multispecies cultures and showed that the FlowCam®’s versatility allows for cell counting that is consistent with the hemocytometer and optical density values, and has also proved that it is more efficient when considering co-cultures. Dynamic imaging particle analysis through equipment like the FlowCam® is only one of many new technologies that are available for algal cultures. Because of its versatility, many types of data can be generated using one equipment, allowing for algal screening on different degrees of analysis. With the development of new techniques and technologies, algal cultures can be analyzed more efficiently and with better depth.