Spectroradiometric detection of competitor diatoms and the grazer Poteriochromonas in algal cultures

Thomas A. Reichardt, Danae Maes, Travis J. Jensen, Thomas A. Dempster, John A. McGowen, Kunal Poorey, Deanna J. Curtis, Todd W. Lane, Jerilyn A. Timlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


To address challenges in early detection of pond pests, we have extended a spectroradiometric monitoring method, initially demonstrated for measurement of pigment optical activity and biomass, to the detection of algal competitors and grazers. The method relies upon measurement and interpretation of pond reflectance spectra spanning from the visible into the near-infrared. Reflectance spectra are acquired every 5 min with a multi-channel, fiber-coupled spectroradiometer, providing monitoring of algal pond conditions with high temporal frequency. The spectra are interpreted via numerical inversion of a reflectance model, in which the above-water reflectance is expressed in terms of the absorption and backscatter coefficients of the cultured species, with additional terms accounting for the pigment fluorescence features and for the water-surface reflection of sunlight and skylight. With this method we demonstrate detection of diatoms and the predator Poteriochromonas in outdoor cultures of Nannochloropsis oceanica and Chlorella vulgaris, respectively. The relative strength of these signatures is compared to microscopy and sequencing analysis. Spectroradiometric detection of diatoms is then further assessed on beaker-contained mixtures of Microchloropsis salina with Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Thalassiosira weissflogii, and Thalassiosira pseudonana, respectively, providing an initial evaluation of the sensitivity and specificity of detecting pond competitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102020
JournalAlgal Research
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Algal crop protection
  • Algal cultivation
  • Reflectance spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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