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Applied and Environmental Microbiology








Green autofluorescence (GAF) has been described in the short flagellum of golden and brown algae, the stigma of Euglenophyceae, and cytoplasm of different life stages of dinoflagellates and is considered by some researchers a valuable taxonomic feature for dinoflagellates. In addition, green fluorescence staining has been widely proposed or adopted to measure cell viability (or physiological state) in areas such as apoptosis of phytoplankton, pollutant stresses on algae, metabolic activity of algae, and testing treatment technologies for ships' ballast water. This paper reports our epifluorescence microscopic observations and quantitative spectrometric measurements of GAIT in a broad phylogenetic range of microalgae. Our results demonstrate GAIT is a common feature of dinoflagellates, diatoms, green algae, cyanobacteria, and raphidophytes, occurs in the cytoplasm and particularly in eyespots, accumulation bodies, spines, and aerotopes, and is caused by molecules other than chlorophyll. GAF intensity increased with time after cell death or fixation and with excitation by blue or UV light and was affected by pH. GAF of microalgae may be only of limited value in taxonomy. It can be strong enough to interfere with the results of green fluorescence staining, particularly when stained samples are observed microscopically. GAF is useful, however, for microscopic study of algal morphology, especially to visualize cellular components such as eyespots, nucleus, aerotopes, spines, and chloroplasts. Furthermore, GAF can be used to visualize and enumerate dinoflagellate cysts in marine and estuarine sediments in the context of anticipating and monitoring harmful algal blooms and in tracking potentially harmful dinoflagellates transported in ships' ballast tanks.

Original Publication Citation

Tang, Y.Z., & Dobbs, F.C. (2007). Green autofluorescence in dinoflagellates, diatoms, and other microalgae and its implications for vital staining and morphological studies. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73(7), 2306-2313. doi: 10.1128/aem.01741-06