Microscopy is fun, but not necessarily easy. Often it takes much more time to prepare a sample than it does to actually view it. I routinely use microscopes in my research, and offer this gallery as a sampler of some of the beauty that microscopy can reveal. All of the following images were obtained using a microscope, either a compound microscope (equipped for differential interference contrast and epifluorescence microscopy), a stereomicroscope, a confocal laser scanning microscope (cLSM), a scanning electron microscope (SEM) or a transmission electron microscope (TEM). To learn more about these microscopes and how they are used, check out these microscopy resource sites by Olympus and Nikon.
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You may use these low-resolution images for class lectures or for unpublished school reports without asking for permission (although it's always nice to know if they are being used), but they will not be very pretty. Higher resolution copies of most images may be requested (free for classroom use) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Munson wrote a very nice article
about the intersection of my science and art for the UMaine
Today magazine. The photo on the header is from that article; it's
of me and my dad, a retired cell biologist now pursuing a second career
More Art Than Science?
The jaws stand out in this photo of a juvenile
nereidid polychaete. Winner of the 2006 American Microscopical Society
Photomicrography contest, color division.
UV autofluorescence of chaetae and gills in a cirratulid polychaete. © Sara Lindsay
Definitely more art than science. I used simultaneous epifluorescence (UV) and brightfield illumination to capture an image of a Nereidid parapodia at 4X. Applying an edge-finding digital filter in produced this striking image. © Sara Lindsay
More Art. On the left is a DIC image of disintegrating mussel shell. On the right is the same image after applying a wave filter in Photoshop. © Sara Lindsay
This is not modified. I just imaged the autofluorescence of a snail operculum under UV illumination. The swirls were created as the snail added new layers to its "door". © Sara Lindsay
Chaetae are Cool
This array of hooded hooks on a spionid
polychaete is an important taxonomic feature. Chaetae (=Setae, or bristles)
help worms hold onto their tubes and move through the sand grains. Honorable
Mention in the 2005 Olympus Bioscapes International Digital Imaging
Graceful compound setae seem to reach to the light in this Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) image. © Sara Lindsay
Alternating hooded hooks and capillary setae of a spionid polychaete. DIC. © Sara Lindsay
The eerie blue glow from these compound
setae is due to UV autofluorescence. The worm cross-section was viewed
with simultaneous epifluorescence and brightfield illumination.
A swimming larva of the spionid polychaete
Polydora cornuta flares its chaetae (bristles) when startled.
Confocal & EM
Muscles in the regenerated head of a spionid polychaete. Depth coded 3D projection showing the fluorescence of phalloidin (which labels F-actin), imaged with a confocal laser scanning microscope. Honorable Mention in 2008 Olympus Bioscapes International Digital Imaging Competition. © Sara Lindsay
Regenerating spionid brain and feeding palp nerves. Depth coded 3D projection showing the fluorescence of an antibody labeling alpha tubulin, imaged with a confocal laser scanning microscope. © David Forest & Sara Lindsay
More muscles imaged using confocal microscopy. Posterior segments of a spionid polychaete. © Sara Lindsay
Scanning electron microscopy provides a different perspective on this spionid polychaete. The worm is regenerating its two feeding palps. © Sara Lindsay
Transmission electron microscopy lets us take a close look at the sensory cells on the feeding palps of a spionid polychaete. © Sara Lindsay
Posterior segments of a maldanid polychaete,
stained with methyl green. Stereomicroscope. 2009 Winner American Microscopical
Society Photomicrography Contest, color division .
Anterior end of a terebellid polychaete, showing branching gills and contractile tentacles. Single frame from HD video, steromicroscope. 2011 Winner American Microscopical Society Photomicrography Contest, color division . © Sara Lindsay
Sternaspis scutata. A very cool
worm and unofficial mascot of the 1989 Polychaete Class at the Friday
Anterior end of a burrowing sea cucumber from False Bay, Washington. Bioturbator extraordinaire. © Sara Lindsay
Not a worm you'd like to meet walking home
Miniature Mothra. © Sara Lindsay
Gallery updated January 2011.