Freshwater algae & cyanobacteria

We provide a comprehensive service for the monitoring and assessment of algae and cyanobacteria in source waters for drinking supplies, wastewaters and in fresh and marine waters used for recreation and agricultural/aquaculture use.

Our algal laboratory is NATA accredited for a range of phycological services, including the collection of planktonic and non-planktonic samples, the microscopic identification and enumeration of algal and cyanobacterial taxa and the estimation of their biomass (refer table below).

We also offer a rapid molecular testing service for the quantitative determination of algal toxins produced by algal blooms that assists water utilities respond to water quality issues caused by cyanobacteria.


Planktonic algae and cyanobacteria are microscopic photosynthetic organisms which are a natural and essential component of all surface water environments.

As autotrophic organisms, they form the basis of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems and rely on a combination of sunlight, a source of nutrients and other physico-chemical conditions for their growth. The composition and abundance of phytoplankton may be used as an indicator of trophic status of a water body.

The growth of algae, cyanobacteria and other aquatic plants and animals can affect the quality of water by causing unsightly scums, imparting tastes and odours, producing toxins, blocking filters, increasing turbidity and restricting flow in pipes and channels.

Cyanobacteria are of most concern, because some species can produce toxins which are a serious hazard to human and animal health. Health risks include liver damage, gastroenteritis, skin and eye irritations can arise from ingestion, inhalation or contact with these toxins.

Our rapid testing service for the quantitative determination of toxins produced by algal blooms has assisted the water utilities throughout Australia and overseas respond to water quality issues caused by cyanobacteria.