Wednesday, 9 October 2019


For some people moss is a green plague. For other people moss is of unprecedented beauty. The Netherlands has more than 600 species of moss. There is even a real red list of rare and endangered moss species. Moss is a spore plant. The sporangium grows into a thickening in which the spores are located. As soon as the spores are ripe, the thickening will lose its cap and the spores can be transported by the wind.

On the first image taken with a stereo microscope, some peristomes with teeth can clearly be seen on top of the sporangium or spore capsule. The peristome is a specialized structure in the sporangium that allows for gradual spore discharge by unfolding its teeth. 

The second image shows that all spores have left the capsule. Sometimes it looks like moss is in bloom, like on the photo below, but moss does not bloom. What you see are not flowers, but spore capsules raised above the moss cushion.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

A perfect sample for understanding the fine focus procedure: Pollen grains from Cobaea scandens

Cobaea Scandens (Jacob’s ladder family) is a widespread ornamental plant for garden and balcony. Domiciled in Mexico, this climbing plant is cultivated as an annual in the temperate zones.

Beside its aesthetics with bell-shaped violet flowers, there are two more aspects worth to mention:
  • This plant is pollinated by bats. 
  • Tthe large (~ 160 microns Ø) pollen grains of Cobaea show a complex structure which is worth to discover.
Pollen Grains in Brighfield

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Silent flight

Why can an owl fly almost silently? The owl hunts at night and wants to make as little noise as possible in order not to frighten his prey.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Selecting the right microscope

AE Series

Category: Advanced Inverted Microscopes for Transmitted light

Target specimen: Cell cultures from microbiology, in flasks or petri dishes, on agar or in fluids; water samples from biology

Target customer: Lab technicians, advanced students

This comparison is an approach for classifying different Inverted microscopes in a defined performance range. Here we are talking about Motic’s AE series, meant for routine work in the microbiology lab of universities and related labs of industrial companies.

The following chart is based on the specifications of the basic outfit of both AE models and its available options. Within this series of publications, our rating always rests upon an individual understanding and validation of the actual numerical values.

AE SERIES - Comparison Chart

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Inverted but also ‘upright’

The photos show a cross section of a leaf stalk or petiole of the mahogany tree. A Motic inverted microscope with a fluorescence attachment is used for this. The attachment is equipped with a DAPI long pass filter (excitation at 375 nm).

Friday, 6 September 2019

It’s time for a Biology class!!

Cells are studied with a microscope and after learning about the differences between eukaryotic plant and animal cells and looking at prepared slides of cells and understanding the reason for staining, the subject of cells becomes more interesting. Why you might ask? Cells don’t all look the same, there are different structures and functions to understand and the reasons for why cells can become specialised. In order for cells to develop and survive they divide and this ability to divide is controlled by a series of stages called the cell cycle. There are two main stages of the cell cycle which are ‘Growth and Replication’ which is followed by ‘Mitosis’.

The process of mitosis enables a cell to divide into two exact copies which are identical to the original cell. When the cell is ready to divide as controlled by the cell cycle, the process of mitosis begins and proceeds in stages. These stages are in an order of Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase and finally Cytokinesis.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Fluorescence a useful phenomenon

Fluorescence microscopy is a variant of light microscopy, which is based on the principle of fluorescence. The property of certain fluorescent substances (fluorochromes) is exploited to absorb light - in this case an FITC-filter was used - and release it again with a different longer wavelength, in this case green. However, there is also the limitation of this type of microscopy, since only samples in which these substances have been introduced or which they naturally contain (auto-fluorescence) can be observed. The fluorescence microscope finds great application above all in biology, biochemistry and biophysics, where it is used for the observation of cell components. because it can also represent structures that are far below the resolution limit. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

What makes a human tooth

The images of a cross-section of the root of a tooth (a ground preparation) show various details of the structure of a tooth. Many of the visible details will not be discussed here. To go more deeply, scientific literature is available.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

If money could grow as easy as baker’s yeast…

To watch the budding, it helps if you focus on one square e.g. the upper left; the restless image on the video is caused by the ‘Brownian movement’, water molecules that collide with the yeast cells.

Take some baker’s yeast and grape sugar and dissolve it in a little water, use a cell culture dish and a Motic inverted microscope. With Motic Images Plus 3.0 ML tuned for time laps, shooting frequency one image per minute, you will get the best results.

Yeast cells use sugars to grow. With sufficient oxygen supply - like in this case - the yeasts completely burn their nutrients into water and carbon dioxide, like all aerobic organisms e.g.:

C6H12O6 + 6H2O + 6O2 ==> 6CO2ꝉ + 12H2O

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Don't fall into a pitcher plant

A pitcher plant (Nepenthes) is a soloist. The cups of this whimsical eye-catcher vary in length from a few centimeters to more than 30 cm. They are actually transformed leaves that develop when the plant receives sufficient light. Insects find nectar on the lid above the cup and crawl around the cup, looking for more. Just below the cup rim they find new nectar, but immediately below is a slide of wax. They slip into it and fall into the cup.

The scrambling of the creatures activates the glands in the cup which thereby release a strong acid. This acid digests the insects in two days. Only the shell of the animal remains. The plant grows as an epiphyte in trees.

Prepared slide by Lieder