Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 22 Issue 02

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Volume 22, No. 2
Pages 158 - 167


Remote Detection of Marine Microbes, Small Invertebrates, Harmful Algae, and Biotoxins using the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)

By Christopher Scholin , Gregory Doucette, Scott Jensen, Brent Roman , Douglas Pargett , Roman Marin III , Christina Preston, William Jones, Jason Feldman, Cheri Everlove , Cheri Everlove , Nilo Alvarado, Eugene Massion, James Birch , Dianne Greenfield, Robert Vrijenhoek, Christina Mikulski , and Kelly Jones 
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Article Abstract

The advent of ocean observatories is creating unique opportunities for deploying novel sensor systems. We are exploring that potential through the development and application of the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP). ESP is an electromechanical/fluidic system designed to collect discrete water samples, concentrate microorganisms, and automate application of molecular probe technologies. Development and application of ESP grew from extensive partnerships galvanized by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. Near-real-time observations are currently achieved using low-density DNA probe and protein arrays. Filter-based sandwich hybridization methodology enables direct detection of ribosomal RNA sequences diagnostic for groups of bacteria and archaea, as well as a variety of invertebrates and harmful algal species. An antibody-based technique is used for detecting domoic acid, an algal biotoxin. To date, ESP has been deployed in ocean waters from the near surface to 1000 m. Shallow-water deployments demonstrated application of all four types of assays in single deployments lasting up to 30 days and provided the first remote detection of such phylogenetically diverse organisms and metabolites on one platform. Deep-water applications focused on detection of invertebrates associated with whale falls, using remotely operated vehicle-based operations lasting several days. Current work emphasizes incorporating a four-channel, real-time polymerase chain reaction module, extending operations to 4000-m water depth, and increasing deployment duration.


Scholin, C., G. Doucette, S. Jensen, B. Roman, D. Pargett, R. Marin III, C. Preston, W. Jones, J. Feldman, C. Everlove, A. Harris, N. Alvarado, E. Massion, J. Birch, D. Greenfield, R. Vrijenhoek, C. Mikulski, and K. Jones. 2009. Remote detection of marine microbes, small invertebrates, harmful algae, and biotoxins using the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP). Oceanography 22(2):158–167, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.46.


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