Continuing from my previous post, we now move on to the fungus associated with the scale insect. For this, I just cut a piece of the leaf with the black sooty material and put it on a slide and taped it with a cellophane tape.Unlike the scale insect views, which were the best I have had so far, the views of the fungus at 140x under the foldscope were a bit disappointing. I could see fungal hyphae and conidia, and it confirmed that this black sooty stuff was the fungus. However, in the absence of nice stains like lactophenol cotton blue and poor expertise with fungal morphological forms I had to make do with what I saw. Note, below microscopic images were taken with a Foldscope fitted with a 140x lens and viewed with a Google nexus 5 phone.
Unfortunately, I had broken my high-power foldscape lens holder and while tinkering with the lens, it popped out and into the unknown (Its a sore story), and hence I couldnt get a good high power foldscope image. So with some reluctance, I put the slide under my compound microscope at 400x. Taking pictures with my Compound Microscope is not as smooth as with the foldscope, but here is a collage of what I saw (Note below picture taken with a Celestron compound microscope 40x objective, 10x eyepiece and filmed with my google nexus 5 phone).
The higher magnification was definitely more revealing. Studies on fungi that feed on the scale insect honeydew have shown that they belong to the Dothideomycete class of fungi, and the second picture on the top shows pigmented conidia just as in Aureobasidium. The first picture on the left looks like Alternaria, but I am not too sure. One thing that became clear is that there is more than one type of fungus in this. These fungi necessarily need the honeydew to prosper and this can be seen in the fungal mats, which are only present on the honeydew.
I also need to think about how I can display such fungi so that it is more useful for classification. More experiments are needed here and any recommendations are welcome. Finally, I had a more practical problem of saving my plant, and so I gave it a nice shower to reduce the load of scale insects and wash off the fungus.
More on the other animal in the party in my next post.. to be continued.