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Enter the unseen world of microbes

Armed with Science July 22, 2010
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With funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been developing in situ sorting and observational technologies of individual phytoplankton cells, through time-series deployments of the FlowCytobot and Imaging FlowCytobot instruments. The article below highlights the pioneering work of these novel tools, here examining the Arctic microbial ecosystem for NASA.

“What on earth is that?” I ask as the pictures flash by on the video screen (the fearsome little creature I had seen on the screen turned out to be some kind of ciliated protozoan – more correctly called a “protist”).  I’m gazing at the business end of the Imaging FlowCytobot, an instrument that not only counts all of the microbe cells in a small sample of water, it takes pictures of every one.

“This is the first time an Imaging Flow Cytometer has been taken out on a ship like this on a long, comprehensive survey,” says Dr. Sam Laney (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).

Read the full story here.