Blue Green Algae Field Sampling

Organism ID

Select Cyanobacteria image collections

– Phycotech Cyanobacteria (Blue Green) Genera Image Gallery
– Cyanosite Image Gallery (Purdue University)
– Galeria (Czechoslovakian site)
– Identification Guide to the blooms of Cyanobacteria (French site)

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

– Summary Field Sampling Protocol for microcystin (PDF File)
– Site Inspection and Sampling (Chapter 11, Chorus and Bartram, 1999) (PDF File)

How to sample, preserve for taste/odor compounds

– Field Sampling Protocol for taste/odor compounds (PDF File)
– Standard Methods: Sample collection for individual volatile organic compounds, Section 6010B (PDF File)

How to sample for taxonomic identification

– Proposed Field Sampling/Preservation Protocol for Algal Identification
– PhycoTech’s protocol, but a solid, general approach (PDF File)
– Greenwater Laboratory Sampling Protocol (PDF File)
– Determination of Cyanobacteria in the Lab (Chapter 12, Chorus and Bartram, 1999) (PDF File)

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