Parameters: Cyanobacteria (Phycocyanin), Chlorophyll, Tryptophan
Turner Designs partnered with students from McAllen Independent School District’s International Baccalaureate Program (IB) at Lamar Academy during the summer of 2014. These students participated in an annual Marine Ecology Camp through the IB school and The University of Texas - Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. This year, in addition to their work on seagrass physiology, mangrove production, leaf fall, and decomposition dynamics, these students used chlorophyll, phycocyanin, and tryptophan Cyclops submersible sensors to assess the water quality of the Arroyo Colorado, one of the most human-impacted streams in the State of Texas. The Arroyo Colorado discharges into the waters of the Lower Laguna Madre, renowned for its abundant seagrass communities and commercial fishing. The biota of the Laguna Madre are sensitive to poor water quality and human waste discharge.
Students compared the water quality of the Arroyo Colorado with that of the Lower Laguna Madre. Chlorophyll is an indicator of phytoplankton abundance and phytoplankton often reach bloom conditions when there are excess nutrients. Phycocyanin is a pigment associated with cyanobacteria, a phytoplankton that also thrives under excess nutrients. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is associated with waste products, animal and human. The Arroyo Colorado receives treated municipal waste water and run-off from agricultural sources. The students found that the Arroyo Colorado has chlorophyll, phycocyanin, and tryptophan concentrations many times that of the Lower Laguna Madre. This supports the claim that the Arroyo Colorado faces some serious water quality issues.
Turner Designs would like to thank Joseph L. Kowalski of the Lamar Academy in McAllen Texas for this contribution.
Author: Joseph L. Kowalski
Institution: Lamar Academy, McAllen, TX, USA