Blue Green Algae Field Sampling

Organism ID

Select Cyanobacteria image collections

Potential signs of cyanobacteria blooms

  • Presence of surface scums (yellow, green, blue-green, bubbly)
  • Colonies/filaments that are easily visible in the water (or against a light background) with the naked eye
  • Frothy appearance at near shore areas
  • If no direct scums, an olive color to the water
  • Presence of dead fish or mussels
  • Lack of larger zooplankton in tows

Physical appearance of cells/filaments/colonies

  • Presence and location of heterocysts
  • Presence and location of akinetes
  • Presence of sheath
  • Shape and size of cells
  • Shape of colony (tangled filaments or a straight line)
  • Physiological health of cells, are they healthy or degrading
  • Composition of other taxa in the community


  • earthy/musty
  • sulfurous
  • septic
  • grassy (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)
  • fishy (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)
  • cucumber-like (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)
  • geranium (contributed by non-Cyanobacteria)

Fish Kills

  • Extent and location
  • Composition of taxa in the kill
  • Lesions

Field Sampling and Preservation Protocols

How to sample, preserve for cyanotoxins

How to sample, preserve for taste/odor compounds

How to sample for taxonomic identification

Toxin Identification

  • Labs that test for toxin and cyanobacteria related services

Dr. Alan Wilson
Assistant Professor
Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures

203 Swingle Hall
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849

Cyanolab/Greenwater Labs
205 Zeagler Drive, Suite 302
Palatka , FL 32177
Telephone: (386) 328-0882
Fax: (386) 328-9646 /

Wisconsin State Laboratory of hygiene (not a commercial laboratory)
Environmental Health Division (EHD)
2601 Agriculture Drive
Madison, WI 53718 53718
Telephone: (800) 422-4618

MERHAB-LGL, Gregory L Boyer (not a commercial laboratory)
Professor of Biochemistry
Syracuse NY 13210
Telephone: (315) 470-6825

  • Kits to test for cyanotoxins

54 Steamwhistle Drive
Warminster PA 18974
Telephone: (215) 357-3911
Fax: (215) 357-5232

  • One of the main challenges when testing for microcystins is the many structural variants of the toxic molecule. The Abraxis Microcystins/Nodularins (ADDA) kit is based on recently patented technology allowing congener independent determination of microcystins, it's known ~80 variants and nodularins, thereby minimizing risk of false negatives.
  • Kits for anatoxin-a, BMAA, cylindrospermopsin, microcystins/nodularins (ADDA) and saxitoxin; field and lab

EnviroLogix Inc.
500 Riverside Industrial Parkway
Portland, ME 04103
Telephone: (207) 797-0300 / toll free (US): (866) 408-4597

Strategic Diagnostics Inc.
111 Pencader Drive
Newark, DE 19702
Telephone: (302) 456-6789 or (800) 544-8881

  • Taste & Odor Identification: Labs that test for geosmin & MIB

Montgomery Watson Potable and Recycled Water Lab
MWH Laboratories
750 Royal Oaks Drive #100
Monrovia, CA 91016
Telephone: (800) 566-LABS
Fax: (626) 386-1101

Engineering Performance Solutions, LLC
Mr. Rick Loftis, President
Engineering Performance Solutions, LLC
5510 SW 41st Blvd., Suite 205
Gainesville, FL 32608
Telephone: (352) 338-7770
Fax: (352) 338-3533