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New Optical Sensors for Blue-Green Algae

Posted: Monday 5th June 2006

New fluorescence sensors from YSI detect pigments specific to blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). The monitoring of blue-green algae is of growing interest due to the problems some species can present through the production of toxins and compounds that deteriorate the quality of water and through the formation of blooms.

Blue-green algae are of interest for ecosystem studies and monitoring as well, where they may represent the most abundant primary producers in some environments. This is often the case in open ocean environments due to their efficiency in low nutrient conditions.

YSI’s blue-green algae sensors optimise the limit of detection to allow monitoring of natural concentrations, typically low, of blue-green algae and identify when biomass is on the rise. An increase in biomass, generally associated with other changes in water quality parameters, can be indicative of a bloom and allow researchers or managers to take action before potentially dangerous conditions occur.

These two sensors use the in vivo fluorometry (IVF) technique, which measures the fluorescence of accessory pigments unique to blue-green algae: phycocyanin or phycoerythrin. Because there is no special sample handling or processing required, IVF is ideal for profiling, moored, and real-time data collection using YSI multiparameter sondes.

Multiple Options Available for Real-World Applications

Phycocyanin Blue-Green Algae Sensor (BGA-PC)

The BGA-PC sensor is designed for freshwater and estuarine conditions. Common applications in these environments include:

• Monitoring taste- and odour-causing species in drinking water reservoirs

• Detecting the presence of potentially harmful or toxic species as part of Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring systems

• Monitoring in agriculture ponds where blue-green algae can potentially harm livestock

• Ecosystem monitoring research where BGA impact primary productions and nutrient cycling

Phycoerythrin Blue-Green Algae Sensor (BGA-PE)

The BGA-PE sensor is designed for marine and estuarine conditions. Common applications in these environments include:

• Ecosystem monitoring research where microalgae represent important primary producers and impact carbon and nutrient cycling

• As a key sensor in a Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring system for long-term monitoring in sensitive coastal environments

• Monitoring in or around aquaculture facilities where BGA can potentially harm marine stocks

To make full use of the optical fluorescence sensor technology, YSI is updating its multiparameter instruments, called sondes, with additional optical ports. A typical YSI 6-Series sonde, after a simple upgrade, can measure blue-green algae, optical dissolved oxygen (also new), turbidity, chlorophyll, temperature, depth, conductivity, and pH.

Comprehensive data points from YSI instruments, including blue-green algae, give researchers and managers valuable insight into the health of the aquatic environment in question and help to mitigate the effects of Harmful Algal Blooms.

Contact Details

YSI Hydrodata Ltd
Unit 8, Business Centre West
Avenue One, Letchworth
Hertfordshire, SG6 2HB

Tel +44 (0)1462 673581
Fax +44 (0)1462 673582

Email -
Web -

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