Best practices in the flow cytometry of microalgae

Dora Čertnerová, David W. Galbraith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Microalgae are photosynthetic microorganisms with a major influence on global ecosystems. Further, owing to the production of various secondary metabolites, microalgae are also intensively studied for their enormous potential in biotechnology and its applications. While flow cytometry (FCM) is a fast and reliable method particularly suitable for genome size estimation in plant and animal studies, its application to microalgae often comes with many methodological challenges due to specific issues (e.g., cell wall composition, and presence of various secondary metabolites). Sample preparation requires considerable amounts of biomass, chemical fixation, and/or extraction of cellular components. In genome size estimation, appropriate methods for isolation of intact nuclei (using lysis buffers, razor-blade chopping, various enzymes, or bead-beating of cells) are essential for successful and high-quality analyses. Nuclear DNA amounts of microalgae diverge greatly, varying by almost 30,000-fold (0.01 to 286 pg). Even though new algal reference standards for genome size are now being introduced, animal red blood cells and nuclei from plant tissues are still predominantly used. Due to our limited knowledge of microalgal life cycles, particular caution should be taken during 1C/2C-value (or ploidy level) assignments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalCytometry Part A
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • algal FCM standards
  • best practices
  • flow cytometry
  • genome size
  • microalgae
  • nuclear isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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