Field applications of the second-generation Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) for remote detection of harmful algae: 2006-2007

Dianne, Greenfield, Roman Marin, Gregory Doucette, Christina Mikulski, Kelly Jones, Scott Jensen, Brent Roman, Nilo Alvarado, Jason Feldman, Chris Scholin

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 6:667-679 (2008) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2008.6.667

ABSTRACT: We assess the application of the second-generation Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) for the detection of harmful algal bloom (HAB) species in field and laboratory settings using two molecular probe techniques: a sandwich hybridization assay (SHA) and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). During spring 2006, the first time this new instrument was deployed, the ESP successfully automated application of DNA probe arrays for various HAB species and other planktonic taxa, but non-specific background binding on the SHA probe array support made results interpretation problematic. Following 2006, the DNA array support membrane that we were using was replaced with a different membrane, and the SHA chemistry was adjusted. The sensitivity and dynamic range of these modifications were assessed using 96-well plate and ESP array SHA formats for several HAB species found commonly in Monterey Bay over a range of concentrations; responses were significantly correlated (p < 0.01). Modified arrays were deployed in 2007. Compared to 2006, probe arrays showed improved signal:noise, and remote detection of various HAB species was demonstrated. We confirmed that the ESP and affiliated assays can detect HAB populations at levels below those posing human health concerns, and results can be related to prevailing environmental conditions in near real-time.