Dressing up protozoans (Vital Staining): Tetrahymena Vorax Part 2

Have you ever tried to stain ciliates naively, i.e. without knowing any protocol, just adding methylene blue or some such dye? More than often all one sees are shriveled cells that don’t resemble anything like the live ones. For long, microscopists have used vital stains to stain ciliates live and I have always been wanting…

Polymorphism, cannibalism, epigenetics, and biological conflict: The many stories of Tetrahymena vorax – Part I

There are fascinating stories in biological systems and here is one I recently learnt thanks to the ASSETT program. https://tetrahymenaasset.vet.cornell.edu/science-modules/by-name/cannibalism-and-interspecific-predation/ Tetrahymena vorax is much larger than Tetrahymena thermophila. It also looks very different, swims more like a fish and very interestingly shows a great degree of polymorphisms in shape. As the resources in a growth…

Imaging Tetrahymena thermophila cilia

Tetrahymena thermophila are covered by about 21 rows cilia each with about 30 cilia. These 600 odd cilia allow it to propagate by beating in a coordinated way. The cilia also surround the oral apparatus to sweep food into it. These cilia are probably in the 1 micrometer range and hence imaging them requires one…

A simple hack for reflection/epi-illumination using the foldscope

I have been wanting to post on this for long. There is a very simple way to achieve reflection/epi-illumination microscopy in the new foldscope. For this, I use a simple LED hack that was described by Marie. See https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=13486.  This LED unit can now be inserted from the side as seen in this video. The video…

ASSETT and Foldscope: A marriage made in microcosmos heaven

The past 6 weeks or so I have been tinkering with Tetrahymenas thanks to the wonderful ASSETT program run by Cornell University. ASSETT or Advancing Secondary Science Education through Tetrahymena is an NIH funded program that provides modular science education material for schools, using Tetrahymena as a model system.  Each module is well designed keeping the…

Exploring a Slime Mold-2: Tracks outside and within

Continuing from my previous post, you can imagine that all my free time is spent trying to do as much with the slime mold. By now I am quite certain that this is some kind of Fulgio species (perhaps Fulgio septica). However,one needs to really look for several traits before deciding the species, and so…

Polarized light foldscopy

I finally got myself a polarizing film. By this I can now polarize the light falling on the sample by placing the film between the light source and the sample and further by placing another film between the lens and the eye/camera I can block the same polarized light so that only light whose polarization…

Exploring a Slime Mold-1: Detection, isolation and culturing

Slime molds have fascinated me from childhood. I read about them in a library book and as an undergrad tried to culture them with little success (all I got were tracks of gnats).  The disappointment lasted many decades. A couple of years ago I got a sample of a slime mold from a friends’ porch,…

Surfing surfaces

Here is a hack with the new foldscope lens. Using a magnetic coupler and a lens, couple the two onto the phone’s camera-eye. This can be directly used to scan objects. For a reflecting light source, you can use the camera flashlight (if your app allows you to have the flashlight and the camera on…

Measuring the Foldscope Universe-1: Using the kit scale

In any scientific endeavor, measurements are a central aspect, and so I was delighted when I saw slide scales in the new foldscope kit. This meant that I could calibrate my phone camera with the slide scales. The smallest division on SLIDE A2 is 0.5 mm. Under the foldcsope at no digital zoom, that is…

Unboxing at midnight

Dark was the night and the date slipped over to the next. The wind howled as the critters froze under the million eyes of the crisp “Thanksgiving sky”.  But we were undeterred and bravely sneaked to the box, while the others slept in fear of the dark. Assembling the foldscope was a breeze, in spite…

Our Latex experiments

We wondered what the white latex of a Ficus plant would look like under a Foldscope. Here is the experiment in 5 short videos Video 1/5: Latex in Ficus elongatus.   Video 2/5. We spread the latex onto the slide. We had two slides, one in which we really stirred the latex and the other…

Insect larva before and after mounting in Karo

I brought home some pond water a couple of weeks ago, but in the summer heat, the water turned anaerobic (smelling of H2S) and I hastily took some of the smelly water and to my delight saw this larva. I think it is definitely some Dipteran species, although which one I am not sure. I love…

Biodiversity in a small drop of pondwater

Yesterday was Biodiversity day. Biodiversity is usually celebrated with pictures or collages of a wide range of animals and plants. To think that it is only about 1% of life on earth is mind-boggling.  We are so sensitive to extinctions of mammals, birds, insects and plants today thanks to a few remarkable individuals who have…

Day 7: Lichen culture– part 2

Continuing from my previous post, the April22-plate 3 was really remarkable. Without much ado, here is a sampling of what I saw. Looking forward to your feedback and also can you identify the mystery objects: 1. Nematode (Nematode-24728-1-LI): A fairly large nematode. You can see the pharynx and a bit of the digestive track. There…

Day 7: Lichen cultures

Continuing from my previous post, I am going to try and keep an eye on the succession of life in my lichen cultures. For this, I have 6 different lichens collected from different trees put into petridishes containing RO water. Below, I categorize all life I could see after 1 week. Here are results from three…

Lichen suspensions as growth media

For some time now, I have been completely bowled over with lichen suspensions (1,2,3). You never know what surprise you’d get. I suppose, it would be so for mosses too.  All I do is to drop a lichen scraping in a small petridish with about 5 ml of bottled water and follow it for days,…

Help me identify these ciliates and flagellates

Without much ado, here are 5 unicellular eukaryotes that were growing in my lichen suspensions. These emerged after almost 4 weeks. I took these videos at the beginning of the year,  and only now found time to collate them. Could you help me identify these? BTW, even after 4 months, I have nematodes and rotifers thriving…

A Lousy day and permanent slides

A few months ago, a young micronaut, Aditi, had a lice infestation on her hair and before subjecting her to the lice treatment we got a couple of the critters and foldscoped them.  Without much ado here are the  collated videos. One of the things I have been wanting to do is to make some permanent…

Foldscoop 1:3. Long-term Lichen suspensions

Laziness is a good thing; sometimes. Previously I had posted on observing tardigrades, ciliates and nematodes (1, 2)  in Lichens. It so happened that due to a hundred obstacles that life so often places, I  forgot to observe the lichens suspended in mineral water for about two weeks. By this point, the water turned dark brown…

Tardigrade and friends

I have been greatly inspired by the Stanford Tardigrade post and want to explore the local lichens for similar associations. Initially, I was just focused on finding Tardigrades, but then everytime I picked up a lichen for foldscoping there were other life forms that were consistently observed in the same environs. I then thought that I  should report…

Ecosystem networks and flux

Any species that we observe under a microscope is part of an ecological network that depends on resources and interactions with other species. Think of all the ecosystems we are so used to seeing and reading about regularly: Serengeti, Yosemite, Kaziranga, Madagascar and Artic, each of these have completely different profiles of macro-species from the…

A lichen roundworm in my foldscope and on my table and wall

Ever since the wonderful article on how to find Tardigrades in your backyard, I have been doing my bit to find them in local lichens and as it usually happens, I am completely drawn away by other life forms I see in the same space: the complex of fungi and chlorophytes in an intimate association, ciliates at…

Exploring a pond water sample with a DC micronaut- part-2

Sometime back I had posted a series of videos on a Vahlkampfid amoeba. This emerged from a long session I had with DC-Micronaut Reethi while we were exploring various foldscope tricks and also deciding on workshop content.  In that session we saw several other gems and I didnt get myself to post them until now….

Notes from various Foldscope workshops in India

Recently, thanks to Manu and the foldscope team, Vaishnavi and I had the opportunity to conduct multiple workshops in India. I thought I’d share some of our experiences on our community page.  The idea of these workshops was to work with small groups of people and expose them to a whole range of foldscope tricks so that…

Close encounters with an amoebic kind

Over the summer I have decided to work with one or a few micronauts at a time every weekend. This time I thought I’d let them join me in my explorations. Most importantly I want to share that observations aren’t always picture perfect and ideas aren’t always good to start with, but as you keep observing,…

Camera Lucida

Inspired by Manu’s post and Jim’s projection microscope.   Aditi and Laks

Playing with White flies (Trialeurodes)

I met with three other DC micronauts  last weekend to explore focus-locking, liquid samples and projection microscopes. Since I had a plant infested with white flies, we decided to investigate the white flies. White flies typically can be found in the lower side of a leaf. Here you can see the heavy infestation. One of the…