As part of a Packard Foundation project with collaborators at UCSC (R. Kudela) and Florida Fish and Wildlife (K. Hubbard), we will begin a project at the Santa Cruz wharf in Spring 2017 to assess Pseudo-nitzschia communities in high-resolution.
Current monitoring efforts in Monterey Bay are stymied by low temporal resolution (weekly sampling, with more added during bloom events) and molecular techniques that are simultaneously too broad (light microscopy can only distinguish to two Pseudo-nitzschia size classifications, with few exceptions for identification to species level) and two specific (molecular probes detect three species, while there are 40+ described to date with ~12 of those producing domoic acid).
This project utilizes the capabilities of a moored IFCB (imaging flow cytobot) to inform targeted sampling for high-resolution molecular fingerprinting via ARISA (Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis) of Pseudo-nitzschia community fluctuations. These population shifts can occur on time-scales more frequent than current monitoring efforts, making the near real-time acquisition of in situ images a critical element in furthering our understanding of bloom dynamics. Ancillary data (e.g. domoic acid concentrations, water quality parameters, climactic observations) will afford us an opportunity to connect environmental perturbations with shifts in Pseudo-nitzschia species (and perhaps diversity) heading into the formation of a bloom event. Furthermore, interlab comparisons are slated in order to develop an SOP for the methodology.