A novel on-line fluorescence monitoring system for marine cyanobacterial cultivation was developed. This method is based on the measurement of intracellular phycocyanin content, which is the major light harvesting protein. A fluorescence spectrophotometer, equipped with a flow cell connected with a culture liquid recycling tube was used. Experiments were carried out using a marine unicellular cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. NKBG 042902 isolated from Japanese coastal sea water. We have optimized excitation wavelength to avoid the light scattering, using non-pigmented old cells which no longer contained phycocyanin. At an excitation wavelength of 590 nm, light scattering was minimized. Viable cell concentration could be measured in the range of 2×106 to 2×108 cells per ml, without pronounced light scattering. Continuous monitoring of marine cyanobacteria cultivation was performed. Cell concentrations were determined by both culture fluorescence and by using a hemacytometer. A good linear correlation was obtained. We conclude that on-line monitoring of cyanobacterial culture fluorescence based on phycocyanin is a rapid, efficient and also versatile method for determining viable cell concentration.
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