Taxonomic Discrimination of Phytoplankton by Spectral Fluorescence

  • Hugh L. MacIntyre
  • Evelyn Lawrenz
  • Tammi L. Richardson
Part of the Developments in Applied Phycology book series (DAPH, volume 4)


Chlorophyll fluorescence techniques are used widely in both laboratory and field studies to assess the abundance and physiological responses of cyanobacteria, microalgae, macroalgae and vascular plants, as described in other chapters in this volume. Most of the instruments used in these studies excite fluorescence in the blue region of the spectrum and measure chlorophyll fluorescence (peak ca. 685 nm) at ambient temperature. Fluorescence is generally detected using a photomultiplier tube (PMT), which is very sensitive to intensity but insensitive to spectral quality. Cross-talk between the light source used to excite fluorescence and the detector is prevented by the use of cut-off filters on both the emitter and the PMT, or by the use of emitters with narrow wavebands, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or lasers, and a long-pass filter on the detector. With the advent of LEDs, which have a very high efficiency (intensity of light output per unit power input) compared to the xenon flash-lamps used in many older instruments, commercially-available fluorometers can have very low power demands and be both small and sensitive (detection limits are typically <1 mg m−3 of Chla). This makes them ideal for unattended monitoring such as on platforms, moorings or gliders.


Xanthophyll Cycle Taxonomic Classification Effective Quantum Yield Accessory Pigment Chla Concentration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Geir Johnsen and an anonymous reviewer for comments that improved this work. We thank Adrienne Stutes, Andy Canion, Alison Rellinger, Preston Kendrick and Emily Goldman for assistance in field sampling and lab work. HLM was supported by the US National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (Grant number NA06NOS4190167). HLM acknowledges support for supplementary fieldwork from the US EPA (Grant numbers X-93190401 and R-83065101-1-6) and US Department of Commerce (Grant number NA17FZ2602-A3-08), administered through the Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies and the Alabama Oyster Reef Restoration Program. TLR acknowledges support from the US National Science Foundation (Grant numbers OCE06234001 and CBET0606940) and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (Grant number P/M-2J-V410).


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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh L. MacIntyre
    • 1
  • Evelyn Lawrenz
    • 2
  • Tammi L. Richardson
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of OceanographyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Marine Science ProgramUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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