The investigation of contaminant impact on algae requires rapid and reliable cell collection and optical detection. The capability of alternative current (AC) dielectrophoresis (DEP) collection of whole cell arrays with combined fluorescence microscopy detection to follow the alterations of chlorophyll fluorescence during environmental contaminant exposure was explored. The application of an AC-field of 100 V cm−1
, 100 Hz for 30 min to capture and immobilize the cells of green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
in two-dimensional (2D) arrays does not induce changes in chlorophyll fluorescence. The results demonstrate that DEP-based 2D-arrays allow non-invasive detection of chlorophyll fluorescence change upon exposure to high concentrations of copper oxide nanoparticles and ionic copper. These results were in agreement with data obtained by flow cytometry used as a comparative method. The tool was also applied to follow the effect of a number of ubiquitous contaminants such as inorganic mercury, methylmercury, and diuron. However, a statistically significant short-term effect was observed only for mercury. Overall, DEP-based 2D-arrays of algal cells with fluorescence detection appear to be suitable for stain-free probing the effects on the photosynthetic microorganisms in highly polluted environment.
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