An in situ particle imaging system for measurement of high concentrations of suspended particles ranging from 30 lm to several mm in diameter, is presented. The system obtains quasi-silhouettes of particles suspended within an open-path sample volume of up to 5 cm in length. Benchmarking against spherical standards and the LISST-100 show good agreement, providing confidence in measurements from the system when extending beyond the size, concentration and particle classification capabilities of the LISST-100. Particle-specific transmittance is used to classify particle type, independent of size and shape. This is applied to mixtures of oil droplets, gas bubbles and oil-coated gas bubbles, to provide independent measures of oil and gas size distributions, concentrations, and oil-gas ratios during simulated subsea releases. The system is also applied to in situ measurements of high concentrations of large mineral flocs surrounding a submarine mine tailings placement within a Norwegian Fjord.
Understanding how bacteria move close to a surface under various stimuli is crucial for a broad range of microbial processes including biofilm formation, bacterial transport and migration. While prior studies focus on interactions between single stimulus and bacterial suspension, we emphasize on compounding effects of flow shear and solid surfaces on bacterial motility, especially reorientation and tumble. We have applied microfluidics and digital holographic microscopy to capture a large number (>105) of 3D Escherichia colitrajectories near a surface under various flow shear. We find that near-surface flow shear promotes cell reorientation and mitigates the tumble suppression and re-orientation confinement found in a quiescent flow, and consequently enhances surface normal bacterial dispersion. Conditional sampling suggests that two complimentary hydrodynamic mechanisms, Jeffrey Orbit and shear-induced flagella unbundling, are responsible for the enhancement in bacterial tumble motility. These findings imply that flow shear may mitigate cell trapping and prevent biofilm initiation.
While many studies have examined the impact of oil on phytoplankton or bacteria, very few considered the effects on the biological complex formed by phytoplankton and their associated phytoplankton-attached (PA) and free-living (FL) bacteria. However, associated bacteria can affect the physiology of phytoplankton and influence their stress responses. In this study, we monitored the growth of Heterocapsa sp., an armoured dinoflagellate, exposed to crude oil, Corexit dispersant, or both. Growth of Heterocapsa sp. is unaffected by crude oil up to 25 ppm, a concentration similar to the lower range measured on Florida beaches after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The PA bacteria community was resistant to exposure, whereas the FL community shifted towards oil degraders; both responses could contribute to Heterocapsa sp. oil resistance. The growth rate of Heterocapsa sp. decreased significantly only when exposed to dispersed oil at 25 ppm, indicating a synergistic effect of dispersant on oil toxicity in this organism. For the first time, we demonstrated the decoupling of the responses of the PA and FL bacteria communities after exposure to an environmental stress, in this case oil and dispersant. Our findings suggest new directions to explore in the understanding of interactions between unicellular eukaryotes and prokaryotes.
Significance and Impact of the Study
In the environment, oil spills have the capacity to modify phytoplankton communities, with important consequences on the food web and the carbon cycle. We are just beginning to understand the oil resistance of phytoplankton species, making it difficult to predict community response. In this study we highlighted the strong resistance of Heterocapsa sp. to oil, which could be associated with its resilient attached bacteria and oil degradation by the free-living bacteria. This finding suggests new directions to explore in the understanding of oil impacts and interactions between eukaryotic and prokaryotic microbes.