Conducting Research in the Arctic using the Trilogy Laboratory Fluorometer
Introduction The Aurora Research Institute (ARI) is responsible for licensing, conducting and coordinating research in accordance with the Northwest Territories Scientists Act. The main objective of ARI's Inuvik office is to provide support for researchers working in the Beaufort Delta region of the western Canadian Arctic. To date, more than 3,000 research projects involving more than 1,500 researchers have been conducted using the Inuvik facility.
Since May 2011, the Inuvik office has been housed in the Western Arctic Research Centre, a brand-new facility that was funded through the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund. The new Western Arctic Research Centre was designed with the needs of the research community in mind, and provides much improved services and facilities to researchers. Some improvements include state-of-the-art labs, increased storage space for equipment and samples (including a walk-in fridge and walk-in freezer), classroom space, display areas, a more spacious staging area for field equipment, and office space that can be adapted for either individuals or research groups.
ARI's main objective is to provide high-quality and reliable logistical support to researchers working in Canada's western Arctic. Now that we've moved to a new and improved research centre building, we're overhauling our labs to bring them up-to-date. Our goal is to update all of our lab equipment, and to populate our labs with new equipment that researchers have expressed an interest in using at our Inuvik facility.
Our researchers are keenly interested in using the Trilogy fluorometer because research in the Arctic is very costly. Researchers often spend a significant part of their budgets shipping equipment and samples between their home institutions and field sites. Having a fluorometer at ARI for visiting researchers to use means that they do not have to spend their funding on shipping an identical piece of equipment from home; also, they can run samples while they're at their field site, so they do not have to pay to ship samples back to their home institution. This allows our user groups to dedicate more of their funding to other uses - for instance, prolonging their field seasons or making additional field trips to take more samples.
The Trilogy fluorometer installation was very simple - we just had to plug it in and it was ready to go! We also have a laptop that can be connected to the Trilogy for larger sample runs, allowing users to save their results to a file for later analysis.
The Trilogy is also a very stable and reliable instrument that needs a minimum of maintenance. The ARI staff has calibrated the Trilogy fluorometer using a chlorophyll standard, and checks this curve monthly. Therefore, visiting research groups can simply use our calibration curve to calculate their sample chlorophyll concentrations. This saves each research group the hassle of calibrating the equipment themselves - all they need to do is work out their field sampling protocol, come back to the lab, and run their chlorophyll samples at their leisure.
Results We have successfully calibrated our Turner Trilogy fluorometer using a commercial chlorophyll standard. This calibration curve has been used by visiting researchers as well as the Aurora College Environment and Natural Resources Technology Program (ENRTP). The ENRTP program trains local students for future employment as environmental monitors and resource technicians. Following a week-long field trip to collect samples in the Beaufort Sea and Mackenzie Delta, the ENRTP students returned to ARI to process their samples. They found that chlorophyll concentrations were higher in the Mackenzie Delta than in coastal regions, and also found that the Inuvik sewage lagoon outflow had chlorophyll concentrations approximately 30% greater than those measured in delta water immediately upstream from the lagoon! The students suspect that this is a result of nutrient enrichment in the sewage lagoon.
The following calibration was performed on the ARI Turner Trilogy Fluorometer on September 8, 2011. Chlorophyll-a from Anacystis nidulans algae (Sigma Aldrich C6144-1MG) was used as a source of pure chl-a.
Concentration of chl-a stock standard = 3.72 mg/L
* average RFU reading following acidification with 200 uL of 4N HCI, 2 min incubation period
The Turner Trilogy lab fluorometer is very easy and straightforward to use, which makes it ideal for an institute like ARI. We have a large number of external users who work out of our labs for a few days or weeks at a time, and we also have college and school groups who use our labs to conduct small research projects. The Trilogy allows external users to run samples and get results immediately, and requires very little maintenance by the ARI staff. It's a perfect instrument for a facility as busy and diverse as ARI, and our users have been thrilled to use it!
Authors: Jolie Gareis
Institution: Aurora Research Institute
Location: Inuvik, NT, Canada