Heterosigma HAB Lab Toxicity Part 1 – Brine Shrimp Assay

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It may look like it, but this is not space, and those are not stars. They are Heterosigma, a harmful phytoplankton species responsible for killing over a million farmed fish in the past 20 years, and an indeterminate number of wild fish. At the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs, a team of scientists from the institutions shown here have set up a Harmful Algal Bloom Laboratory (or HAB Lab for short), to research growth and toxic mechanisms in these raphidophytes. Here, grad student Brian Sutton-Quaid, under the supervision of Dr. Charlie Trick, is running a test to determine the toxicity of Heterosigma we have collected and grown in a culture. This assay uses brine shrimp, commonly known to you and me as Sea Monkeys. First, Brian hatches these shrimp in a bubbler, then, places a set number in each well of these plates. Some rows are controls and some rows contain a known amount of Heterosigma. After letting them sit, Brian observes the brine shrimp under a dissecting microscope. These brine shrimp are one of the controls, and are mostly happy and healthy. This is a well containing Heterosigma, and as you can see, the shrimp are having a more difficult time swimming through the water, and are labeled “impaired”. These data, as always, are recorded in a science notebook, with three columns: Alive, Impaired, and Dead. They’re then analyzed to determine the toxicity of the Heterosigma. Please note: Content may not be used without written consent of the author

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