Controlling the life cycle of the green macroalga Ulva (Chlorophyta) is essential to maintain its efficient aquaculture. A fundamental shift in cultivation occurs by transforming the thallus cells into gametangia and sporangia (sporulation), with the subsequent release of gametes and zoids. Sporulation occurrence depends on algal age and abiotic stimuli and is controlled by sporulation inhibitors. Thus, quantification of sporulation intensity is critical for identifying the biotic and abiotic factors that influence the transition to reproductive growth. Here, we propose to determine the sporulation index by measuring the number of released gametes using flow cytometry, in proportion to the total number of thallus cells present before the occurrence of the sporulation event. The flow cytometric measurements were validated by manually counting the number of released gametes. We observed a variation in the autofluorescence levels of the gametes which were released from the gametangia. High autofluorescence level correlated to phototactically active behaviour of the gametes. As autofluorescence levels varied between different groups of gametes related to their mobility, flow cytometry can also determine the physiological status of the gametes used as feedstock in seaweed cultivation.
- Flow cytometry