Surveying store supplements

Algae based supplements have become relatively common in the American market over the past 10 years and I’ve always been curious to assess 1) Is the organism on the label the same in the container? 2) Is the organism on the label the only organism in the container.  At Wholefoods in Berkeley I purchased the smallest amount possible of their Chlorella and their Spirulina.


I used 20ul of water to wet the dusty green material that coated the plastic bag the samples had been put into and then mounted the the samples on a glass slide with a coverslip over the top and here is what I saw using a desklamp as my light source and the Foldscope magnetic connection to an iPhone6



The moniker Spirulina is a historical name and the genus of blue-green cyanobacteria you are getting in these supplements is really Arthrospira. Two species are grown for these supplements;  A. maxima and A. plaetensis.  I’ve tried study the identification keys and with these broken up chains I’m having a real hard time telling which one it is.




The Chlorella looks like the genus Chlorella! I’m not sure as to which species it is. The single cell green algae does normally clump together into balls as seen in the images.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. damontighe says:

    I put some in 15mL conical tubes with heat sterlized water, so we will see! I’ll need to research what nitrogen etc they will need, so maybe I’ll have an answer in a month or so.

  2. damontighe says:

    @laksiyer – I just got home from being on the road for work for a few weeks and the cultures I attempted both failed. My assumption is that the the material is 1) non viable or 2) I didn’t get the right growth conditions for these organisms

  3. laksiyer says:

    Hmm.. I wonder if they uv or ethylene oxide these chaps.

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