Chemical analyses in the Institute of Botany are carried out at two work sites, in the analytical laboratories in Průhonice and in Třeboň. Both laboratories provide analyses need for the Institute’s grants, doctorate and thesis work related to these grants and external orders mainly for university centers, institutions for environmental protection and other organizations of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The range of analyses that can be done in our laboratory is limited by our available facilities and equipment that we are constantly trying to improve by completing and updating our assortment according to the needs of those requesting work from us. The methods used in the Institute’s laboratories are compatible with international ISO standards, but in cases when monitoring is dependent on consistency with previous sampling, we adhere to the original methods. The laboratory’s work program includes not only service activities but also the implementation and modification of new methods as well as consultation and expert assistance for university students.
The analytical laboratory in Průhonice completes soil and plant material analyses to determine overall and available nutrients – calcium, magnesium, potassium and other biogenic macro- and microelements, as well as to determine the content of several trace elements that cause contamination in soils and plants. Typical tasks include comparison analyses of soils and plant biomass from the same locality to monitor transport of nutrients and trace elements. These analyses are done mainly using the following physical-chemical methods: to determine metal concentrations, atom absorption spectrometry with flame and electrothermic modes is used, to determine basic anion, UV spectrometry, isotachophoresis and fluid photometric analyses (FIA) are used, to determine content of non-metal elements (nitrogen, carbon and sulfur) elementary analyses and the carbonate volumetric method are used. Chemical soil analyses are supplemented with analyses of granularity, pH, electric conductivity, exchanged acidity, and water and organic material content. To ensure the validity of results, the laboratory uses commercial standards and reference materials and regularly participates in interlaboratory comparison tests. The laboratory’s scientific program includes not only analysis work for the Institute of Botany but also a significant amount of work for the Natural Sciences Faculty of Charles University, including providing instruction and a work environment for practicals and for individual training of students for specific methods.
The analytical laboratory in Třeboň focuses mainly on analysis of natural waters for individual commercial orders and for monitoring purposes. Recently the laboratory has expanded the spectrum of its work to include soil analyses, especially determination of physical-chemical parameters. Water analyses include mainly anion analysis (nitrates, nitrites, ammonia ions, phosphates) and humic matter analysis. To determine the content of these substances the FIA flow photometry and extract photometry are used. The laboratory regularly verifies the validity of their results in ASLAB and CSLAB interlaboratory tests. Additional methods have recently been included: volumetric determination of sulphates and chlorphyll determination using the trichromatic method; pH, electric conductivity, chemical and biochemical oxygen consumption, neutralization capacity, content of dissolved and undissolved substances, thermal losses, etc. are regularly measured. Screening of algae samples using miniature biotests (to determine toxicity and trophic potential) are also done in our laboratory. The laboratory has also been participating in the securing of regular UNESCO courses, organized by the Třeboň worksite of the Institute of Botany and in ecological activities of the Commission for the Environment of the Třeboň City Council to monitor water quality.