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Scientists discover huge phytoplankton bloom in ice-covered waters
Date:6/7/2012

waters likely experienced something akin to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

What types of organisms participated in the bloom? Laney caught them on camera with an instrument he had brought to seathe Imaging FlowCytobot, an automated microscopic imaging system invented at WHOI and built by Laney and co-developer Dr. Rob Olson.

Since their return, Laney and MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduate student Emily Brownlee have been working with the Imaging FlowCytobot's other co-developer and ICESCAPE team member, WHOI biologist Heidi Sosik, to sort through and classify organisms in the millions of images collected by the instrument and unravel intricacies of the under-ice bloom. The images showed that the bloom was not caused by fallout from algae growing on the ice, but rather it contained different organisms that seized the confluence of currents, light, and nutrients.

The Imaging FlowCytobot offers tantalizing insights into the microbial dynamics and food web of this dramatic Arctic algal boom. For example, the images consistently showed some phytoplankton in the bloom in a half-munched state, offering clues to the planktonic grazers that might be eating them.

Discovering the under-ice bloom "was very serendipitous," Pickart said, but the difficulty of exploring the harsh, remote region also leaves it wide open for surprises.


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Contact: WHOI Media Relations Office
media@whoi.edu
508-289-3340
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Source:Eurekalert  

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