SeaFlow cytometer


SeaFlow is a novel underway flow cytometer created at UW by Jarred Swalwell that is designed to measure continuously the abundance and composition of microbial populations, making it possible to analyze the equivalent of one sample every three minutes. The instrument collects information about the size and pigment content of an individual cell and counts several thousands cells every second in real-time. The instrument utilizes light scattering and autofluorescence properties of individual cells to discriminate and quantify different cell populations that span 0.5-15 micrometer in size. The instrument is semi-autonomous and can be controlled remotely via Satellite connection.

SeaFlow data are processed at the Armbrust Lab by Francois Ribalet. Abundance and optical properties of of the different microbial populations can be visualized using our web interface created by Chris Berthiaume.

Instrument Description

The instrument is presented in the following publication: Swalwell, J.E., Ribalet, F., and Armbrust, E.V. 2011. SeaFlow: A novel underway flow-cytometer for continuous observations of phytoplankton in the ocean. Limnology & Oceanography Methods 9: 466-477.


Instrument Photos

First-generation SeaFlow (June 2008)
Seaflow Gen 1

Second-generation SeaFlow (August 2009)
Seaflow Gen 2

SeaFlow on the UW research vessel (April 2010)
Seaflow Research Vessel

SeaFlow on a container ship (Oocl Tokyo) (January 2011)
Seaflow Container Ship